The Green Hornet

As star, co-writer and executive producer, Seth Rogen is to blame for this uncertain superhero action comedy remake that also stars Cameron Diaz. By Peter Bradshaw

Seth Rogen sure has slimmed down recently. The star of comedy hits such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad is never going to be buff exactly, but he's very much no longer the tubby schlub of old. It's almost symbolic of his disappointing new superhero action comedy The Green Hornet, of which Rogen is star, co-writer and executive producer: it doesn't know whether to satirise the genre, or to celebrate it, or how and where to position itself in between the two stools. There's an uneasy sense that Rogen, though aware of the perennial need to preserve and build his brand as a comedy star, would still like to be seen as a leading man of some quirky sort or other.

  1. The Green Hornet
  2. Production year: 2010
  3. Country: USA
  4. Cert (UK): 12A
  5. Runtime: 119 mins
  6. Directors: Michel Gondry
  7. Cast: Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz, Edward Furlong, Edward James Olmos, Emily Hahn, Jay Chou, Seth Rogen, Tom Wilkinson
  8. More on this film

The Green Hornet started life as a 1930s radio serial and then a Universal movie serial and a 60s TV show, recounting the adventures of newspaper mogul and masked crime-fighter Britt Reid, and his trusty sidekick Kato – on TV, this part was played by Bruce Lee, a faintly uncool debut for the martial-  arts legend.

For this pumped-up movie version, Rogen's Britt Reid is the wastrel son of an LA newspaper proprietor, played by Tom Wilkinson. He lives a dissolute bachelor existence not dissimilar from the one Rogen was having as a single guy in Knocked Up, only with much more money, and far fewer funny lines. When Reid Sr dies in mysterious circumstances, Britt finds himself bonding with his late father's factotum Kato, played by Asian superstar Jay Chou. Discovering Kato's skills at karate and his genius for inventing gadgets, he styles himself The Green Hornet, using the newspaper office in the time-honoured superhero manner, to put himself at the centre of the action.

Almost everything about the film is disappointing. Christoph Waltz is under-par as the villain with nothing like the steely charisma of his Nazi in Inglourious Basterds. The "amateur superhero" stuff looks very similar to Kick-Ass and the idea of the lonely plutocrat with the dishy female personal assistant – played in this case by Cameron Diaz – has been done in Iron Man. The script looks like something that has been toned down in successive drafts. I'd be willing to bet the first version had far more jokes. The only really good one which survives here is Britt's boorish reference to how Diaz appears to be an older woman. "You're kind of 'twilight'…" he says, and when she, baffled, takes that to refer to the vampire movie, he corrects himself: "Well, no, then, kinda Cocoon."

Most depressingly, this was directed by the French film-maker Michel Gondry, who was reportedly brought on to the project very late, and presumably hired because of his quirky "homemade" style. This, however, only surfaces in one sequence, a brief action montage with wacky cut-out impressions of distant explosions. Again, I'd bet that there was far more of this kind of thing in Gondry's original conception, weeded out and blandified by the studio. This hornet has had its sting removed.

baffled: zdumiony

blandified: pozbawiony smaku, mdły

boorish: gburowaty

buff: dobrze zbudowany i atrakcyjny

dishy: atrakcyjny

dissolute: rozwiązły

factotum: sługa

genre: gatunek

hornet: szerszeń

late: zmarły

perennial: odwieczny

presumably: prawdopodobnie

quirky: dziwaczny

recount: opowiadać

reportedly: podobno; rzekomo

schlub: niechluj

sidekick: asystent, pomocnik

tubby: pulchny

villain: czarny charakter

wacky: stuknięty

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