There has been a lot of insidery media speculation this winter–although maybe this happens every winter and I just never noticed it for some reason–about the foresaken dumping ground of a January release. We are told that movies like Season of the Witch and The Green Hornet are unceremoniously shuttled off to this cinematic no man’s land because Hollywood knows garbage when it sees it (does it, though?) and the studios just want to make these disasters quietly disappear. Of course, what is hilarious about this is the idea that Hollywood refuses to release bad movies ALL YEAR LONG. Sure, Hollywood. You definitely only put out bad movies in January. Every other month is SOLID GOLD with you guys. But The Green Hornet is now the #1 movie in America, and it made a bunch of millions of dollars, so I’m not even sure what anyone is talking about anymore. That being said, it was super boring and kind of terrible in most ways, so I guess Hollywood wins again by staving off embarrassing disaster while still collecting ALL THE MONEY. Congrats, fat cats. Give yourselves a Golden Globe for something.

The Green Hornet is about a really rich chubby kid who loves coffee and somehow doesn’t know what the Internet is.

So, Brit Reed (Seth Rogen) is the hard-partying, no-ambitions-having heir to a iPadd app newspaper fortune, which is left to him when his dad (In The Bedroom‘s Tom Wilkinson) dies from…a bee sting? Oh good. At least this movie starts out STRONG and SMART. Seth Rogen doesn’t care about newspapers at all, he just wants to fuuuuuuuuuuu. But then one day he drinks a bad cappuccino, so his life is a nightmare, and that is how he meets his dad’s mechanic, Kato. (I know this whole synopsis thing is going a little long, but can we mention how lame and random it is that our introduction to Kato’s engineering wizardry is some over-large coffee maker he “invented”? Buh.) Kato and Britt become friends, and then they become drunk friends, and then they go on a caper and now basically they are crime fighters, I guess. It’s all a bit odd. Their plan is to pretend to be bad guys? But actually be good guys? It’s a very confusing plan to be honest. Meanwhile, all of the cream I MEAN CRIME in Los Angeles is controlled by Christop Waltz. Stuff happens. Cameron Diaz. At one point, the bad guy kills everyone in Los Angeles who is wearing a green sweatshirt. This movie. In the end there is something to do with the district attorney and Seth Rogen’s dad was or was not corrupt and a USB THUMB DRIVE THAT LOOKS LIKE A SUSHI ROLL DON’T EVEN GET ME GOING ABOUT THAT, and Seth Rogen cares about newspapers now and Kato shoots him in the shoulder but in a good way.

All in 3D. Sort of.

There are a couple of good things about The Green Hornet. Christoph Waltz, for example. He’s great! It’s weird that this is the first movie he’s in since Inglosfurious Badersds. He should be in more movies. There are plenty of good jokes in the movie, too, although that’s actually one of the movie’s problems. It’s too funny. But we’ll get to that in a moment. Did I mention Christoph Waltz? OK, so let’s move onto the movie’s problems then:

For one thing, what is it? It’s neither really a comedy nor an action-adventure nor a superhero movie. Look, I’m not trying to force movies into specific boxes, I’m all for upending genre conventions, but not just for the sake of it, and I feel like this has been a problem with a lot of movies over the past few years (Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World as two examples) where they don’t satisfy on any of their given levels because everything is too thin. The Green Hornet is funnier than it needs to be, to the point of distracting, but it’s not as action-adventury as it should be, and I’m not even sure the word “superhero” applies at all. Just a muddle, then.

Speaking of muddle: the 3D was such an afterthought that it was almost offensive? I’m probably using the word “offensive” wrong, but it WAS badly done, and it DID cost extra dollars for the privilege, so I’m not OUT OF LINE.

But the movie also had lots of very specific problems. For example: when Reed and Kato go out on their first adventure (which is basically just a teenage prank) and end up in a car chase with the police, the very first impulse these two guys have, guys who we are led to believe are mostly just normal guys and not sociopaths, is to basically fucking MURDER A COP?! Whoa. Very intense choice, boys. There are lots of things like this in the movie that are completely unmotivated–even for a comic book movie. Like, it’s one thing to accept that a District Attorney has made a back-room deal with a violent crime syndicate, but are we really supposed to believe that he would pull out a handgun and lead a gang of thugs into a shoot out in the offices of the city’s largest newspaper? In general, everyone is very prone to extraordinary acts of violence in a way that is surprising. Like, at the end of the movie Britt and Kato are actual for real murders, NOT THEORETICAL. That’s scary. Murder is awful? And how come all of a sudden Seth Rogen is super good at fighting in the end? There is nothing that he has done throughout the entire movie that would suggest he has developed any kind of fighting skills whatsoever. And has anyone ever inserted a USB thumb drive into a computer’s USB hub and immediately gotten a “data loading” sequence? Some of these are just nit-picky details, but they’re not THAT nit-picky. I mean, sure, the movie is set in a cartoon world, but even cartoon worlds need to have some kind of basic in human logic.

Meanwhile, Michel Gondry seemed to be having a tough time. Like, he couldn’t just make a straight up “Michel Gondry movie,” but he also didn’t seem to have the heart to make a “normal movie,” and so he couldn’t keep his impulses (built mostly out of felt, pipe cleaner, and MEMORIES) in check without getting real distracting. By the end, everyone seemed kind of exhausted and like maybe they didn’t want to be in this movie anymore.

Mostly, though, The Green Hornet was just boring. And when it comes to comedic action-adventure movies with superhero elements, the very worst thing you can possibly be is boring. IT IS THOSE MOVIES’ KRYPTONITE! Get it? Kryptonite is a superhero thing or whatever. And it’s, like, really bad, I think? You probably get it, but email me at

Did you guys see this movie? DID YOU SEE THE #1 MOVIE IN AMERICA?

Comments (48)
  1. I LOVES me some Michel Gondry, and I can even see him being able to do things with Seth Rogen. But I find the 3-D concept off=putting, considering his typical low-tech visual style. So thanks for reaffirming my belief that I do not want to see this.

    • I kind of tired of Michel Gondry? He made the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which was wonderful. But it’s more and more obviously just ridiculously lucky for him that he got to direct a movie written by Charlie Kaufman. THAT guy is consistently excellent and original. Gondry… Meh. The Science of Sleep remains the only movie I’ve ever walked out on. I sat through S1MONE, just to give you an idea of my level of patience. I am patient!

      I did not see the Green Hornet, but I likely will when it’s in my Netflix instant queue. Or won’t if it never is.

      • I skipped The Science Of Sleep based on some trustworthy opinions, but I honestly enjoyed Be Kind Rewind, even if I’m in the minority there. Admittedly, I may be letting my fondness for the premise affect my opinion of the movie itself. But who cares? It has Mos Def and Jack Black recreating classic movies! What’s not to love?!

      • Finally watched Science of Sleep the other day with some trepidation. Loved Eternal Sunshine, but Be Kind Rewind was a disaster. And, as you said, Kaufman seems to clearly be the strength behind the earlier film.

        Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by Science of Sleep. Messy, teetering on the point of quirk overload, but it won me over. The lack of a real narrative arc to move forward seemed to let Gondry just have fun with his experiments. And I thought Garcia Bernal (in a very different role for him) carried it well. I would like to see Gondry give another go at dropping screenwriting duties and directing another writer (not named Seth Rogen).

    • its not like they were shooting little yarn bullets out of knitted guns. there was like one weird memory sequence, but otherwise it was just a regular movie.

  2. “No; YOU’RE the #1 movie in America!” – my new favorite insult

  3. i drove an extra 25 minutes just so i could see it in 2d. i dont actually like action movies, so i liked this! the parts i did not like were when they were drinking wine with ice cubes in it, and when my viewing companion kept insisting that seth rogen had shoved a plain usb drive into a real piece of sushi. “but it stuck to that truck like rice sticks to things. plastic doesnt stick to things!”

  4. I did not see it, because I was off killing it in a pop quiz. Fun fact: I actually won a prize for shouting “Justin Bieber”. So thank you for that knowledge, Videogum. Good times.

    Also, the reviews were kinda bad (Ebert gave it one star), probably gonna wait for home release or whatever. Because Michel Gondry, so my white person brain is going to force me to see it at some point.

  5. I thought the movie itself was entertaining enough, my biggest Biff was that I paid $13 for a 3D movie when all that appeared to be in 3D were the ending credits, which were great as far as ending credits go.

  6. I cordially invite everyone to join me in the Great Seth Rogen Embargo. Make 2011 the year you stop seeing his movies. The world is ending next year, so you’ll probably only miss two or three anyway.

  7. Uwaaaahhhh. I hate to split comic book hairs or whatever, but the Green Hornet is more than a comic book character, in that there are comics about him— now more than ever because of the hype around this movie— but he’s technically a radio pulp hero that has been adapted into all other forms of media (most notably the television show with Bruce Lee, and also comic books and now films).

    So he’s a pulp hero from the radio, which was the predecessor of superheroes (Doc Savage, The Shadow, etc)

    I feel like I want to apologize for this comment.

    Gabe’s review as a whole though pretty much confirmed my suspicions of what the movie was going to be like. And hey, at least it spawned a Mythbusters episode where they basically just blew up tractors with dynamite for an hour. Explosions.

  8. I’m going to be skipping this movie but I did like what Seth Rogen said about Michel Gondry on Conan. He said he was expecting him to be some kind of French genius but then when he met him Gondry picked up a little statue and wiggled it around on his crotch like it was his penis.

  9. Bruce Lee is spin-kicking in his grave.

  10. Okay, so my viewing companion and I liked it. We file it under the category of “Funny movies with lots of violence that we don’t have to think very hard about…great for beer pong parties and getting down.”

  11. I keep checking careerbuilder for “Guy Who Tells Director ‘That would never happen!’” but it never comes up in my feed.

  12. Oh my god, this movie. It was more like The Green HORrible…. amirite?

    Wow, I just hated it. SO. Much. Flames… Up the side of my face.

    I love Gondry, but this movie was just a mess.

  13. The truth is I will see anything Gondry does as well as anything Christoph Waltz does. I can’t help it.

  14. I enjoyed a fair number of scenes. The exposition is kind of a train wreck before the train leaves the station, the climax is a bit “let’s wrap this up,” but in between it’s kind of breezy and fun in the way that a movie that ideally shouldn’t inspire debate or argument really ought to be. It was a lot of fun watching Reed and Cato posing as superheroes before they’ve lit upon that whole ethical understanding that’s supposed to be the raison d’etre of any other superhero. Then Reed decides to clean up the city, and I’m like, “No! Never stop the partay!”

  15. It wasn’t SUPER BAD. I do feel like they just KNOCKED it UP a little for some minor 3D moments. However, I can’t wait for ZACK AND MIRI to MAKE A PORNO of it.

  16. Inglosfurious Badersds. Made me laugh.

  17. This movie. Woof.

    I go back and forth about what was the worst, but I am pretty sure that Cameron Diaz as Lenore secretary who studied journalism AND criminology, yet could only get a job as a temp was the worst (both because it could absolutely happen in the real world and because she was played by Cameron Diaz) And I laughed very quietly to myself when Seth Rogen was like “Why are you doing this in your twilight?” You OLD!

    Despite all of that, I would still absolutely play a piano duet with Jay Chou. I would also not complain if he wanted to bring me leaf coffee every morning in bed.

  18. You guys, where’s this movie? Am I the only one old enough to remember?

    and yes, I know that nobody is going to see this but I still had to log on to post it. Now if you’ll excuse me…

  19. You guys, when’s this movie going to be made? Am I the only one old enough to remember?

    and yes, I know that nobody is going to see this but I still had to log on to post it. Now if you’ll excuse me…

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