"Green Hornet" never reaches top speed

Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:47pm EST
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By Michael Rechstshaffen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Leaving behind a long list of previously attached talent from stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Jake Gyllenhaal to filmmaker Kevin Smith, the Black Beauty finally roars into theaters this weekend with Seth Rogen and Jay Chou behind the wheel and director Michel Gondry in charge of its course.

While the slick vehicle in question -- a seriously pimped-out Chrysler Imperial -- delivers the awe-inspiring goods, "The Green Hornet" itself never achieves sufficient traction to go the blockbuster distance.

Credit Rogen, who co-wrote the script with Evan Goldberg, and Gondry for attempting to take the 75-year-old radio serial (and mid-'60s TV series) in some fresh, irreverent directions. But the stop/start end result fails to sustain any satisfying momentum.

Rogen's fan base as well as the fanboys who were teased with footage in July at Comic-Con should ensure the picture has a decent opening, but it could fall short of generating sufficient buzz to spawn repeat business.

Originally debuting January 31, 1936, on Detroit's WXYZ, "The Green Hornet" radio serial was the brainchild of "Lone Ranger" creator George W. Trendle, with the masked avenger's alter ego, Britt Reid, said to be the great nephew of the Lone Ranger.

Unsurprisingly, Britt, the playboy son of crusading Daily Sentinel publisher James Reid, has been retailored as a wide-eyed slacker to fit the Rogen persona. When his harshly judgmental dad (Tom Wilkinson) dies after what appears to be a fatal bee sting, Britt inherits his media empire, but he'd rather tool around with his father's trusted mechanic, Kato (Chou), in one of his tricked-out luxury cars.

Of course, it would be even cooler to pose as vigilantes who make like bad guys so they can infiltrate the actual evildoers' inner circle and blast 'em with Kato's gas gun.

Enter the Green Hornet.   Continued...