INTERN’S VIEW: Gondry’s ‘Green Hornet’ Is The Perfect Superhero Comedy
The Green Hornet; Directed by Michel Gondry; Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Tom Wilkinson and Cameron Diaz.
Sometimes a superhero film doesn’t need to challenge our perceptions of right and wrong. Sometimes a superhero film doesn’t have to present a gritty crime caper with aspirations of Shakespeare. Sometimes, you just want to see something hilarious with lots of explosions. Green Hornet is that kind of film, a light and yet subtly made parody of the serious superhero film we’ve come to expect with the advent of the Nolanverse Batman and Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. If you’re expecting drama and nihilistic villains you need to look somewhere else. From the earliest previews I knew I would like Green Hornet, but I didn’t know that I would love it and that this dreadfully underrated gem would broach my favorite comic book films of all time. Simply put, Green Hornet is the perfect superhero comedy, a feat that has been attempted in the past but never managed to go beyond corny nostalgia. With this film, Michel Gondry has proven himself to be an auteur with a sense of humor, able to make compelling dramas but also step back and give us a fantastic action comedy, and more importantly a bang to start off the new year.
Green Hornet follows the story of Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), a reckless, fun loving playboy and son of the famous James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), newspaper mogul and publisher of The Daily Sentinel. Britt and his father have never seen eye to eye, but when James is found dead of an allergic reaction to a bee sting, Britt secludes himself. Eventually he meets Kato (Jay Chou) his father’s former mechanic and all-around human Swiss army knife. After some heavy drinking, Britt and Kato decide to head out on the town and commit a little vandalism. However, what starts as a childish prank quickly becomes a rescue and soon Britt has an idea; what if he and Kato became superheros? Disguised as villains, they could infiltrate the criminal underworld headed up by Chudnofsky (the brilliant Christoph Waltz) and rid the city of its’ scourge. Will Green Hornet succeed? How does lovely Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) fit into this? Of course, my favorite question, why did the critical consensus for this film reek of snobbery?
Right off the bat, I was dismayed by the polarizing response that Green Hornet received from other critics, but when I saw it I didn’t see the horrible film they claimed it was, I saw a film that people really just didn’t know what to do with. How many superhero comedies exist? Not very many. What’s been the usual critical consensus for them? Hatred. Sure, it’s fine if superheros deal with rape and torture but the minute Gangster’s Paradise starts playing with Seth Rogen and Jay Chou singing along it’s a terrible film. What struck me even more is that even if we accept that Green Hornet failed at what it attempts to do, it was made in such a way that it not only makes fun of itself at every turn, but pokes fun of every other superhero cliche throughout the years.
Let’s be honest, Seth Rogen is not a superhero…but that’s what makes it so grand! Never in a million years would I have imagined him as an action star and a worthwhile character but lo and behold, he pulls it off. How about Christoph Waltz as the villain whose only gimmick is that he’s in search of a gimmick? Or Cameron Diaz as the seemingly usual female character who doesn’t end up with either of the main characters and by the end is irritated beyond all belief? These are ideas that most superhero films look over but Green Hornet has the capacity to take these ideas and not only be funny at face value but also be funny as a deftly made, possibly unintentional satire.
Jay Chou steals the show as Kato though, providing us with great laughs and incredible action sequences thanks to his martial arts skills and ‘Kato Vision’. The writing for the film feels like every superhero film and no superhero film simultaneously, a feat that only dumb luck could have accomplished. All of these elements combined with Michel Gondry’s distinctive visual style provide a great time at the movies. Maybe the fact that that’s all I expected from this film helped me enjoy it a lot more. Maybe since professional critics need to seem like legitimate cinema lovers they shun films like this for credibility. In the end though, this film gets my highest recommendation. Not in a high art sense, but in the same way I would recommend the original Highlander or Boondock Saints. It might be corny at times but Green Hornet backs it up with laughs, action and genuine entertainment. See it, love it, talk about it.
Rating: ***** / *****
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Philip Benais is our newest Intern, a 16-year old student at Big Picture High School in SeaTac. He’s an aspiring Writer who loves movies, so we let him write reviews for us.
Read more of his work here.]