The Green Hornet

“I’m the hero, you’re the sidekick. Indy… Short Round!”

It figures that a whole lot of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen‘s screenplay would feature the Green Hornet and Kato bickering like an old married couple, often getting into fights and arguments with each other only to make up and get all along all the better afterwards. In their “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express” scripts, everything also kind of took a backseat to the ups and downs of the friendship of the two main characters. It’s all about the bromance, as you might say, except the “bros” here happen to be Britt Reid (Rogen), the rich playboy heir to a media empire who somehow ends up becoming a masked vigilante after his father (Tom Wilkinson)’s death, and Kato (Jay Chou), his martial arts expert, “human Swiss army knife”of a chauffeur.

Created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker for radio in the 1930s and later the subject of movie serials and comic books in the 1940s as well as, of course, a cult TV series starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee in the late 1960s, “The Green Hornet” returns in this big Hollywood production that isn’t quite your typical super-hero flick. In addition to the irreverence of Goldberg and Rogen’s writing, you also have to take into consideration that this was directed by Michel Gondry, of all people. Now, this is far from being the most distinctive and personal film from the director of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “La Science des rĂªves”, but there are quite a bit of little touches here and there that remind us that the imaginative French filmmaker is at the helm.

Amongst other things, I was really impressed by the fight scenes in which everything on screen is in slow motion except the super fast Kato and where the things he focuses on (his opponents’ weapons, mostly) glow red, with some kaleidoscopic effects thrown in as well. There’s also a brilliant split-screen sequence, in which the villainous Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) sends his goons around L.A. to track down the Green Hornet, that calls to mind the technical wizardry found in many of Gondry’s music videos. Oh, and as you probably know, all of this has been converted in 3D and the result is pretty cool, Gondry’s visual tricks popping up from the screen even more than usual.

Even though it features a whole lotta mayhem and Jay Chou being “balls deep in shit-kicking” (!), the fact remains “The Green Hornet” is an unusually laid-back, offbeat superhero movie, in the image of Seth Rogen, whose wide-eyed enthusiasm goes a long way towards making this a satisfyingly rowdy and goofy action comedy, despite some pacing issues, a rather generic plot and a pointless romantic interest character played by Cameron Diaz.