Seth Rogen, best known for raunchy comedies like "Knocked Up" and "Observe And Report", brings his comedic sensibilities to bear as both writer and star of "The Green Hornet", while trading in most of his raunchy humor for some really cool action and gags with more general appeal.
Based on the radio and tv shows of the same name, the story centers on Britt Reid, the recent heir of his father's newspaper media empire. Realizing that he has wasted himself in a life of decadence, Reid decides to make a difference by becoming a masked crime-fighter. With one twist. He presents himself as a criminal, so that he is able to get closer to organized crime than a professing hero ever would.
Aiding him and providing the vast majority of practical skills, is Kato, the mysterious Japanese man who served as auto mechanic and "coffee maker" for Britt's father. His true talents, however, including martial arts mastery and technical wizardry, are the most potent tools he brings to the table.
This movie is just plain fun. The action scenes are very cool to watch, featuring a return to some of the stylized slow motion and crazy camera moves of the Matrix movies, with even more inspiration possibly being taken from Jet Li's "The One", in which the chief combatant movies in normal or slightly slower motion, while those he is attacking move and respond to blows at various slower speeds. It's really something to see and a visual high point of the movie. And if your action tastes are more down to earth, there's also a tricked out car and various forms of big, manly guns involved on a regular basis. Any fears I had about action being sacrificed to comedy evaporated in the first 30 minutes. This is a great action flick with some dazzling and clever stunts and effects that often had me grinning from ear to ear.
The writing and performances by Seth Rogen (Green Hornet) and newcomer Jay Chou (Kato) were a ton of fun to watch. The rest of the cast does a fine job, and the chief villain, played by Christoph Waltz of "Inglourious Basterds", is very unique and fascinating in every scene, offering a few laughs of his own. Cameron Diaz also does well with her relatively small role, playing off of Rogen's comedic timing to good effect. But the stars of this movie are clearly Green Hornet and Kato, and the bond they form with each other.
This Green Hornet is a fairly average joe who's a bit out of shape and just gets lucky a lot. But he's not so inept that every moment is played for comedy. In fact he has a few moments in which he rises to the occasion and pulls off some great super-heroics. But these are the exception to the rule, and his primary role is to create a character the audience can walk in the shoes of, enjoying the ride vicariously through him. The device works brilliantly and lends itself to some gratifying and hilarious moments. I don't often laugh at comedies, but this movie, not even a pure bred comedy, had me laughing a number of times.
The script certainly allows for some interesting themes to discuss. The idea of doing the right thing, even when being condemned for it, is central to the concept. A few other elements are worth pondering as well. But the forward energy of the comedy and action never lets up long enough for any potentially worthwhile content to be noticed on a casual viewing.
The tone of the movie is similar to the first "Iron Man" movie, although this film leans a little more on the side of comedy than action. But its a fantastic flick that I would highly recommend to almost anyone.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content.