THE GREEN HORNET is an action comedy based on the radio show created by George Trendle in 1936. It borrows some iconic images and situations from the 1966 TV show which helped make Bruce Lee a star. The movie is basically an origin story, told in a comic vein. After his father’s mysterious death, Britt Reid, an irresponsible playboy, decides to become a secret crimefighter. Instead of posing as good guys, however, he and his partner, Kato, pose as criminals. That way, they can get closer to the criminal masterminds, and the criminals won’t be able to blackmail them by threatening their friends or innocent civilians. The plan sounds great, but it’s harder than it seems.
Seth Rogen gives a loopy performance as Britt Reid aka The Green Hornet. Though it’s a good idea to lighten up the superhero genre, the comedy is sometimes over-the-top. The movie also has too much gratuitous foul language. The violence also gets a bit too much, although The Green Hornet uses a gas gun to knock out some bad guys rather than kill them. MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution. A little cutting would improve this movie immensely.
(B, C, CapCap, Pa, LLL, VVV, S, N, AA, DD, MM) Light moral, redemptive worldview about exposing and stopping criminals and pro-capitalist content as rich heir gives up being irresponsible and uses his money to do good, but the heroes deceive people and pose as criminals themselves to stop the bad guys and protect the innocent, and there’s some off-color comedy; about 65 obscenities (but apparently no “f” words), one GD profanity and five light profanities; very strong but not gruesome or graphic action violence includes explosion kills a couple bad guys, men shot to death by villain, martial arts fighting, vandalism, buildings and objects wrecked in fight scenes and chase scenes, heroes evade police and explode traffic camera in order to be free to fight crime, people knocked out by gas; implied fornication when couple wakes up in bed together, passionate kissing the night before and man shows interest in women’s clothed rear ends; one shot of upper male nudity, some female cleavage and women’s tight-fitting short skirts; alcohol use and drunkenness; no smoking but drug sales implied and briefly discussed; and, lying, deceit, evading police, jealousy.
THE GREEN HORNET is an action comedy based on the radio show created by George Trendle in 1936. It borrows some iconic images and situations from the 1966 TV show which helped make Bruce Lee an international movie star. Whether the addition of comedy helps this show is each viewer’s call, but MOVIEGUIDE® found that too much of the comedy was over-the-top and should be cut. There’s also too much gratuitous foul language. The foul language adds nothing to the story and actually takes away from the movie. As Producer Ken Wales, longtime MOVIEGUIDE® friend, has said, cursing in a movie just stops the story dead in its tracks, so it should be used very sparingly, if at all.
The movie, set in modern times, tells the story of the origins of the Green Hornet aka Britt Reid, the great nephew of John Reid, aka The Loan Ranger (also created by George Trendle in 1932). It opens with Britt as a young boy getting chewed out by his father, a newspaper mogul. Britt tries to explain he was trying to stop a bully in a fight, but his father won’t listen. Instead, he tears off the head of the toy action figure Britt is carrying and throws it into the trash.
Cut to 20 years later in Los Angeles. Britt has become an irresponsible playboy. One night, Britt smashes a hotel window while his father writes an editorial slamming the city for letting a crime spree get out of control. The main culprit is arch-criminal Benjamin Chudnofsky, who has just blown up a rival’s nightclub and drug dealing hangout. Britt’s father is shocked about the brazen public nature of the crime, even though he’s friends with the District Attorney.
The next morning, Britt’s father chews Britt out again when he finds Britt waking up with the girl he brought home the night before. Later that day, Britt’s father suddenly dies from an allergic bee reaction, leaving his son the vast media empire he built. Britt fires all the house staff, including his father’s trusted assistant Kato. Much to his chagrin, however, Britt discovers it was Kato that made everything run smoothly, including the great morning cappuccino Kato made every morning. Britt discovers that Kato has other talents, like keeping all his father’s fancy cars in great working order.
Britt hires Kato back, and the two men spend the night celebrating their new friendship with several drinks. Still angry at his tough-minded father, Britt convinces Kato, who also found Britt’s father hard to take sometimes, to visit his father’s grave and cut off the head of the bronze statue the city erected in his honor. Britt hides his face with a green scarf.
After committing this vandalism, Britt sees a gang of men roughing up a young couple taking a stroll in the evening air. Britt challenges the villains, but has to be bailed out of the situation by Kato, who just happens to be an expert martial artist.
Back at the Reid mansion, Britt is thrilled to uncover Kato’s hidden talent. He talks Kato into working with him to become a crime-fighting superhero team, just like the comic books Britt enjoyed reading as a kid. Britt says the weakness of those comic book heroes was that they tried to be known as good guys, which always put their friends and innocent civilians in danger, to be used as blackmail against the superhero. Britt suggests they pose as tough masked criminals to get close to the real criminals and destroy their criminal enterprises. Kato says this means that both the criminals and the police will be after them. So, he builds a souped-up bulletproof car, The Black Beauty, with lots of funky weapons and gadgets, for fast getaways and extra protection.
Britt takes over management of his father’s crusading newspaper, to play up the criminal exploits of their secret identities. After their first foray into the criminal world, Britt suggests he should call himself “The Green Bee,” but Kato, who’s actually more clever, convinces him that Hornet is a better nickname.
Using the newspaper he inherited, the Green Hornet and his partner begin making a name for themselves. [SPOILER ALERT] With the help of Britt’s new secretary, Lenore Case, they begin hunting down Chudnofsky, the underworld kingpin. Chudnofsky, who’s been in the crime business for a long time, becomes jealous of the Green Hornet’s notoriety. He sets a trap for Britt and Kato, to eliminate these new rivals.
Seth Rogen gives a loopy performance as Britt Reid aka The Green Hornet. Though it’s a good idea to lighten up the superhero genre, the comedy here is sometimes too over-the-top. For instance, a jealous comic fight between Kato and Britt over the affections of Lenore goes on much too long. It may remind some viewers too much of the comical fight scenes in The Pink Panther movies between Clouseau and his own Kato. A little cutting might help this movie immensely.
Other than that, there’s way too much foul language in THE GREEN HORNET. This is a bad idea, not only from a moral standpoint but also from a box office viewpoint. Studies by MOVIEGUIDE® and other sources have shown that too much foul language limits box office. Also, the action violence in GREEN HORNET is a bit too strong, even though Kato invents a gas gun for Britt to use to knock out bad guys instead of shoot them. The movie’s sexual innuendo, though brief, includes some passionate kissing, an implied bedroom scene and some references to looking at women’s rear ends. Finally, the Green Hornet’s crimefighting gimmick requires him to deceive people, including the police.
All in all, despite some fun, exciting and funny moments, THE GREEN HORNET could use some re-working. MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong or extreme caution for the foul language. THE GREEN HORNET plays too much like a lightweight juvenile fantasy, not a solid movie that can stand the test of time. There’s too much Golly Gee! and not enough Wow! The Green Hornet’s car is definitely cool, however.
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