Team the acting and writing talent of Seth Rogen and the writing talent of Evan Goldberg with the artsy-fartsy directing skills of Michel Gondry and you could be doing Gone with the Wind and it would turn out to be quirky comedy.
Only this is not only not Gone with the Wind, it’s not a good comedy, quirky or otherwise.
The trio base their film on George Trendle’s classic radio series from the 1930s with a twist. They set The Green Hornet in this era. Rogan’s Britt Reid inherits his father’s estate and newspaper. He and is personal assistant Kato never liked Reid’s dad, so they desecrate a statue erected in his honor.
While doing that they are accidentally thrust into the role of super heroes. It seems like fun so they continue. Once they get rolling, the goal is for the two men to look like they’re villains so criminals will trust them and can be busted more easily.
Considering the cast and crew, the plot had to be a comedy. For one thing, Rogen’s limited acting chops allow him to play just one character. Drama is not a good fit. He — predictably — does Reid and his superhero alter ego as an inept doofus. Reid is kept afloat and continually saved by his constant comrade, the karate-kicking Kato.
The very talented Jay Chou is Kato and has the film’s only interesting and non-cliche character. He’s wasted in this vast wasteland of supposed comedy. So is the villainy of Inglourious Basterds bad guy Christoph Waltz. As the city’s crime lord, Waltz fires on about a third of the cylinders he used to win the Oscar in Quentin Tarantino’s flick.
A better script and more to do might have helped.
As an uncanny metaphor for their going nowhere movie, and to give themselves some real direction, Reid’s secretary — done by Cameron Diaz — does criminal research and actually has the smarts to plan what the Green Hornet and his unnamed sidekick ought to be doing.
And what they ought to be doing is a different movie.
Rogen and his directing legend cohort make the Green Hornet and Kato look like little boys playing super hero, only little boys playing super hero would use more imagination and be a hell of a lot more fun.
Their movie never gets any traction.
If you must see this, do see it in 3D. It is mind-boggling and so good that when you get bored with the nowhere plot, at least you’ll still have something interesting to do.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence and language, it opens Friday, Jan. 14 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.