The Green Hornet (2011) | Review by Mark Leidner
The Green Hornet is an okay but not stupendous superhero thingy. My expectations having been set low by the cheap jokes in the previews, I was pleasantly surprised. The villain is Cristoph Waltz, who delightfully stunned as the brilliant villain Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, the most beautiful movie ever made, and who throughout Green Hornet gots some funny-ass lines poppin’ out his mouth! The first scene also features a sweetly cheesy cameo by James “Jonathan Franzen” Franco! Due to these surprises and some creatively silly Pineapple Express-esque action sequences, The Green Hornet is better than you think it will be. But responsible critics should not confuse the illusion of goodness that shimmers around a merely passable entry’s transcendence of that critic’s expectation of suckitude with the gooey, gooey goodness of real goodness. The viewer, on the other hand, has a responsibility to lower his or her expectations, so that any film’s perceived goodness might be selfishly maximized. Thus the duty of the critic to the public and of the viewer to the self are forever opposed, like the crossed particle beams of two separate Ghostbusters sweeping the vaulted hotel ballroom of the soul for the shallow hologram of truth.
I’ll be the first to admit Seth Rogen was awesome on The Wonder Years. As the snarky sidekick of more versatile leads, Rogen is able to land his punchlines with a devastating, deadpan precision—but when he’s gotta leap around, conjure enthusiasm, mope, emote epiphanies, and cling genuinely to all those other skinny vines main characters must swing on through the jungles of change—he continually overplays his hand. He’s like a Jack Black without the hole in his soul, that thing deep down that drives great comic immersion into the moment, into the self-immolation of pure performance (which paradoxically reveals the self in the viewer). Rogen’s always holding back, clutching some dim ember of middle-class normalcy he believes is worth protecting, some shitty inner sincerity that’s just not interesting or dramatically useful, instead of melting fully into the form. Reading contemporary poetry one encounters too a commoditized bewilderment. Poem after poem effortfully destabilizes conventions of syntax and diction all to reveal… someone from the middle class wanted a taste of literature. There is no there here. Just a charging, adolescent energy unencumbered with the wisdom of years or the distance from self true alienation teaches. It’s easy to be a poet or an actor. But there is only room in art for language and character.