It’s difficult to describe The Green Hornet because even it doesn’t know what it wants to be. The result is a noisy, overlong attention-deficit jumble of semi-serious story threads undermined by an anarchic sense of humor, with the most pointless (and ineffectual) use of 3-D in recent memory.
Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg wanted to have fun with the concept of an action movie, and were handed the old radio and television property The Green Hornet as their vehicle. They’ve retained the bare bones of the original: a young man named Brit Reid inherits a big-city newspaper from his father and uses it as a vehicle to fight crime, adopting a secret identity. The writers felt, from the start, that both the sidekick Kato and the sleek—
—car called the Black Beauty were much cooler than their hero—an odd twist that suits their irreverent sensibilities. But collaborating with the ingenious and experimental director Michel Gondry has resulted in a movie that goes off in even more directions than they might have envisioned. (I still can’t quite figure out what Cameron Diaz is doing in the picture.)
I like to make an emotional investment in a movie, even (or perhaps especially) a comic-book-style yarn. Rogen and Goldberg deliberately try to undermine that—except when they periodically decide to inject some plot points. If you can’t take the hero seriously, and the villains are painted as recklessly violent buffoons, what’s left for an audience to hang onto?
The answer, I suppose, is a series of jokes and a lot of high-energy action scenes. But even those ingredients need some context in order to work…and there is no reason on earth for this hodgepodge to take up two full hours.