(reprinted from the Independent Weekly)

THE GREEN HORNET
Two stars
Opens Friday, Jan. 14

Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen’s re-imagining of the radio/ film/ TV hero better known for his name, car and Bruce Lee playing his sidekick than any actual storylines is an odd mixture of superhero-film parody and straightforward action-comedy. Displaying much of the same fascination with 1980s buddy comedies he exhibited in Pineapple Express, star/ co-screenwriter Rogen plays a disgruntled playboy who develops a ridiculous scheme to become a vigilante/ fake criminal after the death of his disapproving newspaper-magnate father (Tom Wilkinson) with help from an ass-kicking gadget expert (Jay Chou). Director Gondry has some fun with the fight scenes (the added 3-D is mostly unnecessary), and, well, that’s one cool tricked-out car. But the film isn’t quite willing to commit to being a comedy or an action flick, and there’s no real reason why Cameron Diaz is in the film for anything other than star power. Last year’s Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) does have an amusing bit as a gang lord obsessed with re-branding himself as scary and cool. Occasionally, the movie hits an inspired comic riff, such as a Clouseau-esque scene of Rogen and Chou beating up on each other in a pool house, but this is mostly the larking-about of comic filmmakers given some cool toys to play with, and the result lacks punch… or more appropriately, sting. Rated PG-13. —Zack Smith