In 2011, The Green Hornet was released in theaters starring Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz, and Jay Chou. The film was directed Michael Gondry, who previously directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind. It was an attempt to take the classic radio/tv hero and update him for modern audiences and cash in on the superhero craze of the early 2010’s. Sadly, this misguided effort didn’t quite capture The Green Hornet’s essence and was a critically panned despite making almost $230 million dollars on a $125 million dollar budget. (It would have been $10 million dollars less, but the studio decided to do the cheap, add-on 3-D imaging to take advantage of the 3-D fever that was happening at the time.)
So, what went wrong with The Green Hornet? I wasn’t so sure because until 2020, I’d never seen it. I was working at a movie theater when it was released and I was excited to see it when the initial posters and standees came out. But once I saw the first trailer, I realized that this movie was not going to be taken serious and that seemed like a huge mistake and ultimately it was.
I hadn’t seen The Green Hornet streaming anywhere until Netflix added it a few weeks ago, and despite its reputation for not being good, I decided to check it out because I have this strange fascination with pulp heroes.
What The Film Did Right: -The action scenes are good and the cast is fantastic, although Seth Rogen is sorely miscast as The Green Hornet.
-The Black Beauty is gorgeous and as ridiculous as it was that they would use such a car in 2011, it look fantastic on the screen.
What The Film Did Wrong: -Seth Rogen is playing the same character he played in Zack and Miri, which is a version of the same character he almost always plays. In small doses (40 Year Old Virgin) this works great. Sadly, he’s never struck me as the leading man material and certainly not a superhero. He slimmed down and looked great for the role, but he never brought any real seriousness to the character and instead hid behind the same old tired perverted jokes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good joke, but I think this movie might have had a chance with someone else helming the script.
-Speaking of the script, its sloppy. It really is. It’s so hard to get invested in the characters when they are constantly doing insane things (building incredible vehicles at a moments notice) and then jumping straight into crime fighting. I understand its a bit of a popcorn movie and you need to check your mind at the door, but its hard not to watch this and feel like Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg had no respect for the source material and instead stayed up late one night stoned and wrote this while watching old re-runs.
-For movie that takes no time to slowly set up the two main character, the film is way too long clocking in at 119 minutes.
-The ultimate sin this movie makes is that they never give us a reason to root for The Green Hornet. His reasoning for fighting crime is lame, he has no real obstacle to overcome, and he’s not honorable. In fact, he spends the majority of the movie being a major dick to everyone. People love Batman because despite all damage inside the man that is Bruce Wayne, when he puts on the mask he becomes something better than himself, someone with a code and honor. We never get this with The Green Hornet, instead he’s a joke, who can’t fight, and is an idiot.
I’ve seen The Green Hornet now, and it was okay. I enjoyed it for what it was but mourned it for what it could have been. Recently, Universal brought the rights to The Green Hornet and I hope that they can bring out a prop adaptation that doesn’t involve a ton of dick jokes.