I saw this movie since I couldn’t see Thor and RottenTomatoes promised me that it was in the top 10 most rented movies, making it relevant, even if a bit old. Gee whillikers, Radioactive Man, I love me some comic book movies, but what was up with this?
Let me explain the premise first. A rich jerk who runs a newspaper has a kid (Seth Rogen) who has a heart of gold but no real skill or willpower. We understand he is a jerk because when small chubby Seth Rogen gets sent home early from school for standing up to some bullies, Rich Jerk Dad tells him, “Trying doesn’t matter when you always fail,” and then breaks his toy.
Flash forward years later. We meet some nameless men, one of whom was a Nazi in another movie (Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds) and another who is wearing a leather jacket. Obviously, these dudes are bad news. We get confirmation when the excellent dialogue tells us that they are in charge of all the crime in L.A. (really? All the crime?) and then blow up James Franco who is trying to be a crime lord in his own right and pretending to be Robert DeNiro but not caring enough to actually get it right. Before he dies, he gives a confusing speech about how designer clothes, not hard work, get you to the top. (Wait, what? Why?) Waltz leaves the meeting with Franco insecure in his own scariness. (Is he having a quarter life crisis, too?)
Seth Rogen is totally a playboy now and you can tell because he puts up a fire extinguisher to his crotch and waves it around like an ejaculating penis. Hs father, the rich jerk, is displeased, but not for long because he dies (don’t worry, the somber Johnny Cash song will get you through it) from a bee sting, presumably when he was stopping to smell the roses (moral of the story: never stop to smell the roses). Seth Rogen realizes that he no longer gets good coffee now that his dad is dead and the servants are gone. He is upset and finds the man who used to make his coffee ““ it’s a guy named Kato (Jay Chou) who is also into cars and can invent a lot of things without, apparently, any formal education in Comic Book Physics and Engineering.
Kato and Seth Rogen get drunk in the back of a car and complain about Dead Rich Jerk and then decide to saw off the head of the statue of Dead Rich Jerk as a, I don’t know, fun little “fuck you”? And when they do that, they see a crime and Seth Rogen tries to be the hero, but Kato is the hero instead and they get so stoked from being heroes (real or in their head) that they go home and shout and dribble a basketball. The next day, the Green Hornet is born.
What follows is a truly tone-deaf and bizarre comic book movie that I’m not sure anyone could love. The plot is open and doesn’t make much sense. Loose ends are left willy-nilly, I assume because they’re hoping for a sequel. Seth Rogen’s angry, insecure, stoner schtick, while awesome in Freaks and Geeks and that one Apatow movie I saw him in, is not really working here. I get that the point was to make him One of the Normal People, but as a Normal Person, I’d really rather not be associated with such a self-serving ego-maniac. Honestly, he comes across as a bizarre mix of Homer Simpson, Tom Haverford, and a lot of money. Sorry, dude. Oh, and movie people? Stop making white people rap in awkward ways. It is not as funny as you think. I have so much contact embarrassment that my face is still burning.
And then the running gag about how Seth Rogen takes all the credit but Kato does all the work? This would be a lot more funny if it was either: 1) satirizing the way the work of people of color gets consistently overlooked and underacknowledged or 2) not actually a problem in real life. If I wanted to see white people making bank and fame off the hard work of people of color, I’d go outside. Or listen to rock’n’roll. I’m just saying, I have options.
Oh and don’t get me started on the bizarre dynamics between Seth Rogen and his secretary (Cameron Diaz) who has a secret back story (WHAT IS IT) and is more fit to run the company than he is. At one point, she quits and the only way she comes back is for double the pay and a promise of no more sexual harassment. SERIOUSLY? What. Is. This.
In the end, this was a very confusing movie. Were we supposed to be laughing as Christoph Waltz descended into super-villain madness, or were we supposed to be scared by the rising forces of evil? Were we supposed to relate to Seth Rogen and if so, how? Is this a comedy or a drama? How much of this was ironic? I gotta say, I felt uncomfortably meta like half the time, like they were not only breaking the third and fourth wall, but also the roof, the floor, and every single window.
Anyway, that’s my movie review: this is an odd action movie with more velvet than I would have expected. Have you seen it? Did you like it?