Friday, May 06, 2011

Kato and his sidekick Billy Madison

Well... you think this is bad, just imagine what Kevin Smith was going to do with this. He never could get beyond the casting problems: who will play Kevin's Green Hornet? Dante or Randal? Dante, of course, is the natural leading man type, so you'd THINK he'd be The Green Hornet, but there's no denying Randal's alpha-male ... charm? Presence? Status? Well, as much as one would like to think so, you can't wear the baseball cap backwards forever. Even George Carlin knows that.
But why am I spending so much time thinking about movies not even made yet? Because I think Michel Gondry would have an appreciation for that, being the experimental film sorta guy that his resumé suggests. But I think with his take on The Green Hornet, well, it's much like the director shock some experienced over Pineapple Express. I haven't actually experienced it myself yet, but I'm told the film's more violent than people were expecting. So too with Hornet. It pushes the profanity boundary as far as PG-13 will allow, and the violence even more so... but that's what happens when a PG-13 film is north of a $100 million budget. Business is business. Which franchise was aligned with this again? Subway? Burger King? I meant to keep track of that. IMDb should! Work on that, IMDb.
I think I know why Green Hornet was stuck in development hell for so long. As a superhero movie, it's pretty much like most other superhero movies of late: gadgets, sidekick, rich kid, villain... and a lot of them are self-aware as well. No longer seems like a new wrinkle. But Rogen and Goldberg DID write that episode of the Simpsons! Turns out it was just a prelude. Rogen gets an upgrade here, if you look at it from the Funny People perspective. He's no longer Ira Wright: he's George Simmons now, by way of Billy Madison. George Simmons lost his joie de vivre; Billy Madison has his head permanently in the clouds, if the clouds were crystal meth vapour.
But the direction is not without its charms. Slightly more fanciful than the mercenary capitalism of Iron Man, there's a sequence where the camera pans around a giant garage full of fancy cars. Seth Rogen and his date stop at each one to kiss, moving on to keep up with the camera. Tom Wilkinson, one of the busiest actors in the biz, plays Rogen's unapproving father. He hasn't aged much in the 20 years the film skips over... I still say Jeff Garlin should've been the father.
Anyway, the direction. Gondry does what he can here. $120 million just doesn't go as far on the screen as it used to, but I did have an appreciation for the relatively restrained cinematography, courtesy of Michael Bay survivor John Schwartzman. I guess between Armageddon and Meet the Fockers, he's got the Hollywood thematic spectrum covered. Frankly, Gondry's restraining himself here as well. I was expecting more stop-motion animation interludes as with The Science of Sleep, but he sticks with pretty standard framing of the car, the mansion, etc. I admired the scene where the screen kept splitting off into separate threads, as the word went out amongst the bad guys in the movie. And I thought everything's already been done!
I would just like to mention one scene in particular. Every good movie... actually, most good movies have enough momentum written into the plot that they don't need a scene like this. The best example I can think of is the scene in They Live! where Roddy Piper does damn near everything he can to get Keith David to put on those damn sunglasses... there you go! A whole picture of it on IMDb and everything. More talented souls than me would say that that fight scene was epic. Some might even go so far as to call it... iconic. I still think it's kinda stupid. The stupid fight in The Green Hornet... SPOILER ALERT... happens between Seth Rogen and Kato, played by Jay Chou. Not John Cho of Harold and Kumar fame, incidentally. Kato knows martial arts, Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) SO doesn't, so naturally you'd think it would be no contest. Rogen starts out the fight strong, scoring a number of hits on Kato, even getting away with a fake ending of the fight, going "Okay, okay, fight's over..." and then throwing another punch... but Kato eventually takes charge of the fight, landing about twenty hits. You think it wouldn't take twenty hits to subdue someone like Rogen, maybe only five at the most, but he has lost a lot of weight, and he did work with Jody Hill on Observe and Report so he MUST know a thing or two about kicking ass. He drops Kato into a glass table which shatters, which slows him down a little bit. The fight somehow ends up as a draw... no, wait, it's coming back to me. The fight ends up in the pool. Kato can't swim, so Rogen ends up saving Kato's life with an inflatable lobster. Only in the movies. Fortunately, Kato is much better against bad guys.
It all just makes me want to watch Mystery Men again. Someday. There's also an homage to the tow-truck subduing of a vehicle from Heat. Dare I say there's an homage to the time Bart Simpson cut the head off the Jebediah Springfield statue? I dare so! Christoph Waltz is clearly enjoying the fruits of his Oscar win. Cameron Diaz... I can't help but think she deserves better, but A-Rod? Really? Hmm... I've heard the baseball player. Either way, I think she's doing fine. As long as she's saving her money. Whether she's 36 or 39, she still looks great. And of course, there's all the humanitarian work she does... she does, right?
Where was I? Might as well wrap this up. I didn't hate it as much as my viewing companions did, but I will say that a single star rating alone just doesn't cover certain movies. Cinematography: four stars, even though some of it might have been blurry digital video. I had a hard time telling. Those slo-mo bits of glass in the first scene looked pretty good. Seth Rogen: two stars. Jay Chou as Kato: three stars. Occasional flashes of ingenuity: three and a half. The ending: one and a half stars, even though I've never seen half of a car do so much since the 60s Disney flicks: Freaky Friday? Love Bug? Of course, they split the cars down the middle... should I have said spoiler alert again? I gotta go...

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

No comments: