Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 3
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

NICE JOB KATO: The Green Hornet, aka Britt Reid (Seth Rogen, left) is trying out some of the features that Kato (Jay Chou), Reid’s versatile manservant, has built into the Black Beauty, which is the vehicle that the pair use to roam the streets of Los Angeles at night in search of evil criminals such as Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christopher Waltz, not shown).

The Green Hornet: Comic Book Series Revived as Irreverent Buddy Movie

Kam Williams

When you hear that The Green Hornet is coming to the big screen, it’s reasonable to anticipate a typical superhero adventure akin to Batman, The Hulk, Superman, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man and other comic book classics. That is, until you also learn that this picture stars Seth Rogen, the standup-comic/actor best known for his comedy roles in films such as Superbad and Knocked Up.

Since Rogen’s physique and demeanor don’t conjure up visions of a macho leading man, he overhauled the Green Hornet’s persona. With the help of his screenwriting collaborator, Evan Goldberg, Rogen reshaped the title character into the sarcastic trash-talking slacker he usually plays — a sharp contrast to the selfless suave protagonist found in the comic books. Otherwise, the story remains fairly faithful to the thirties radio serial and subsequent comic books.

Early on in the film, playboy Britt Reid (Rogen) learns that his estranged father (Tom Wilkinson) has died under mysterious circumstances, ostensibly from an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Reid fires most of his father’s staff at the mansion, and reluctantly assumes the reins of his father’s media empire, which includes the local paper, The Los Angeles Sentinel. He also decides to pursue his after hours passion of roaming the streets at night as a crime-fighting vigilante.

To this end, he enlists the assistance of his loyal manservant, Kato (Jay Chou), who not only knows how to brew a mean cup of coffee, but just happens to be a crack inventor, auto mechanic, chauffeur, and martial arts expert all rolled into one. Donning masks to morph into their alter egos, the Green Hornet and Kato, the pair proceed to patrol Los Angeles in the Black Beauty, a bulletproof car outfitted with munitions that include machine guns. missiles, shotguns, and flamethrowers.

They soon encounter a diabolical archenemy, Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), a Russian mobster who has cornered the drug market with the help of the crooked District Attorney (David Harbour). When not battling these bad guys, Britt and Kato compete for the attentions of Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), a secretary at the Sentinel who has a degree in criminology.

Unfortunately, the execution of the straightforward plot is decidedly underwhelming. The problems with The Green Hornet are many, starting with Britt Reid, who is an unlikable lout who can’t fight and who doesn’t inspire you to root for him. He’s eclipsed by Kato who always miraculously surfaces to save the day.

Seth Rogen is upstaged at every turn by his co-star, Taiwanese actor and singing sensation Jay Chou, who makes his impressive English language debut as the acrobatic Kato. Unfortunately, the two never generate any chemistry between themselves.

Fair (1 star). Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, sexuality, and drug use. Running time: 108 Minutes. Distributor: Columbia Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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