Superheroes are all the rage in movies, so it's no surprise that The Green Hornet radio show and television show got the big-screen treatment. Having Seth Rogen star in and co-write the movie is more surprising. The Green Hornet is largely a reflection of Rogen -- and that's often silly and often painful.

Rogen plays Britt Reid, a selfish, hedonistic womanizer and party animal who lives off his father James (Tom Wilkinson). James is the publisher of the newspaper The Daily Sentinel and concerned about the crime in Los Angeles -- and Britt's lack of concern. When James dies (of a bee sting, of all things), Britt inherits his father's newspaper, media empire, and possessions -- with little idea what to do with any of it.

Enter Kato (Jay Chou). Possibly the most overqualified character ever, Kato was James' mechanic and gets coffee for Britt, but he's actually a martial-arts master and mechanical genius. After a night of vandalism and saving a couple from muggers, Britt and Kato decide to be superheroes. But Britt decides they should pose as villains (so the actual villains won't threaten innocents to get to them) and uses The Daily Sentinel to make them, the Green Hornet and sidekick, infamous.

With the gadget-filled car the Black Beauty, Britt and Kato begin making disruptive waves in the underworld. This bothers crime boss Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz, so much better used in Inglourious Basterds), a thug with a double-barreled handgun and insecurities about what people think of him. Also along for the ride are: Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), Britt's hot secretary who is more of a crime expert (and source of tension between Britt and Kato); district attorney Scanlon (David Harbour), who's not happy about the Green Hornet; and Axford (Edward James Olmos), the day-to-day publisher of The Daily Sentinel.

While The Green Hornet pays plenty of tribute to the original show, it's oddly like Rogen's stoner comedy Pineapple Express: Both movies feature Rogen as a "lovable" goofball who turns into an action hero at the end (with lots of violence). Rogen spends almost all of this movie as less of a hero (such as when he runs away, yelling "Every man for himself!") and more of a comic jerk, making The Green Hornet feel like a comedy trying to be an action movie.

The action isn't impressive, Kato's martial arts view is an odd mix of a Terminator's targeting system and bullet-time from The Matrix, and 3-D has never been so inessential as it is here. Jay Chou is good as the ultra-talented Kato, but most of the cast feels like they're going through the motions. And how is it that the Green Hornet and Kato don't deliberately kill anyone, yet seem perfectly fine with all the bodies that pile up in their wake?

The Green Hornet has some laughs here and there, but overall it's neither funny nor exciting enough to be a solid addition to the canon of good superhero movies.

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch

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