and sometimes poetry

The Green Hornet (2011) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl

We had a whole quiver of insults aimed and ready to sling at what we quite assuredly felt was The Green Hornet’s sleekly-fashioned and yet slow-moving quarry. Black Swan IIBromance for Dummies; and just plain old Seth Rogen Sucks Up Another Movie. We were so prepared to hate this movie, which partakes of all our least favorite genres—the aforementioned Apatowian buddy flick; the comic book spin-off; the unkillable long-live-newspapers-and-journalistic-integrity subplot; Cameron Diaz—and let Mark know so frequently, long before the actual movie peaked its verdant thorax over the grey horizon of mid-winter release dates. In preview after preview we shook our head, warning him that, “in no way would we ever see that shit.” Our skepticism was grounded in our expectations of the pleasures and pitfalls of the movie’s conventions; our subsequent enjoyment of the film was in proportion to the lowest depths we hold such formulas in esteem. We have all confronted books, or poems, or art with fairly clear ideas of their take-away. The Green Hornet showed us that sometimes selling one’s wares cheap allows one to peddle “newness” without actually going through the trouble of “invention.” Like a recent snack purchase we just made: pretzels and crackers, finally and inexplicably together at last. The Green Hornet is that kind of genre-bending—pretty unnecessary, sorta the same flavor as its component parts, and yet somehow tasty enough to eat the whole pack. 

The plot, which sparkles suspiciously with the makings of demographic commentary, crystallizes around Seth Rogen’s loser-rich-kid rolling home in his stretch-SUV to the scene of his newspaper magnate dad’s death. Suddenly Seth’s in charge and he bumbles and fucks things up per usual, while enlisting the help of his dad’s old mechanic to turn them both into super-heroes who pose as bad guys to get…We know: yawn. The things that save this movie, and that made us—we must admit—cry with laughter in at least one scene are mostly due to Michel Gondry’s whimsical action-adventure sequences. At one point, Rogen and sidekick drive through a gun battle on the top floor of the newspaper building in a car that has been cut in half. Cut in half! It’s the perfect objective correlative: the paper-storm of our movie-weary presumptions lost in the bullet-hail of a film both amping up and sundering its form. The other thing that we liked was Jay Chou. His character managed to climb the barricade of odds Hollywood cobbles together against Asian characters, brandishing some witticisms from its summit. Though other than a few funny jokes—we also must admit—he was still the pretzel to Seth Rogen’s expectedly dry, crumbly cracker. Go see this movie for the opening James Franco cameo; stay if you remember who Edward Furlong is.

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