Tuesday, January 18, 2011
You Provide The Pictures, I'll Provide The War (On Crime)
The curious problem with any review of a theatrical-release film is that film's immediacy. I get in, my box of Hot Tamales snuck in under my coat, I sit down, and two hours later I gotta leave. It's not like I can get the projectionist to rewind so I can watch the whole first and second acts again. This is a roundabout way of apologizing for whatever diffusiveness afflicts this writeup, but there's something going on in The Green Hornet that I have to get off my chest.
First of all, I enjoyed the movie, much more than many of the reviews told me I would. I wasn't expecting to (I wasn't even expecting to go, but I was bored yesterday and it was this or The King's Speech and I was pretty sure George 6 doesn't blow anything up in that one). However, the movie delivers cheerily-executed violence (who knew Michel Gondry would turn out a fine action director?), Seth Rogen being Seth Rogen and an unexpected--albeit small--role for Space Badass Edward James Olmos.
However, there's something going on in this film, a subplot, an itch, an undercurrent of yellow journalism that disturbs me. Spoilers to follow:
Rogen takes the reins of his father's newspaper and in a prank attempt to get back at his Dad, steals the head off a recently-dedicated statue to the man. He's caught on film right after this and right before he and Kato bust up a bunch of ne'er-do-wells about do so something quite untoward. That night, before he knows he's a hidden-camera film star, Rogen decides he wants to do this full time.
He takes the meager amount of footage and information about his escapade and uses his Dad's paper to explode the thing into a front page story, much to the chagrin of (Edward! James!) Olmos. He gets Cameron Diaz's character (a rarity in an action picture in being an actually interesting lady, the film compensates by giving her no discernible motivation for the setup that made her interesting. So: square one) to do all this criminology research so he can turn it around and use it to plot his strategy, all the while using the Daily Sentinel to blow up his antics to Ed Dillinger proportions.
By the climax of the film, Rogen decides to do something of actual journalistic integrity, Michael Clayton-style, but in the explosive(ly awesome, I don't care that an elevator can't take that kind of weight) climax, it's telling that he aims to put the info on the Net, rather than running it through his paper. Of course it's a guy's voice, which obviously works better on the Net or on TV, but when you combine it with the lack of regard Rogen's character displays for journalism in general, it makes a distasteful cocktail. I can't see Clark Kent or Lois Lane, or, really, Van Williams' Britt Reid doing something akin to what Rogen's Reid does.
Part of this, I acknowledge, is the mechanics of the story. Gondry needs Rogen and Chou to get down to the business of administering beat-downs, and the vigilante-pretending-to-be-a-criminal is a pretty integral part of the GH mythos, and I'm glad they kept it. It just bothers me. By the end of the film, his reputation as a city-wide bad guy secured, Rogen steps down as the Sentinel's chief, but doesn't really ever learn his lesson or anything.
Still. A fun time was had by all, and by "all" I mean "me". I just hope that should a sequel happen, they try and make the newspaper something credible rather than just a prop.
He said on the Internet.