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Movie review: 'The Green Hornet' -- 2.5 stars

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The Green Hornet
2.5 stars
Directed by Michel Gondry
Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz
Rated R

What happens when you put a superhero movie into the hands of the director of such fiercely intimate fare as “Be Kind Rewind,” “The Science of Sleep” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”? You get an action movie that’s surprisingly spry and playful, but also noticeably meandering.

In a way, self-made superheroes are perfect territory for Gondry, whose characters in “Be Kind Rewind” and “The Science of Sleep” love nothing more than devoting themselves, body and mind, to homemade projects. Aren’t the Green Hornet and his valet sidekick, Kato — and Batman, Iron Man and Spidey, while we’re at it — merely a couple of guys who’ve created awesome crime-fighting toys and costumes from scratch?

Seth Rogen stars as the titular hero, who goes by the name Green Hornet by night and Britt Reid by day. Britt, a notorious playboy without a care in the world, inherits a publishing empire after a freak bee sting accident kills his father. Instead of rising to the challenge of following in his dad’s footsteps, he fills the void of his useless life by deciding to become a masked avenger. His inspiration for the vigilante operation is his father’s mechanic, a martial-arts and tech genius named Kato, who builds tricked-out armored cars and neato guns.

Gondry devotes much of the film to scenes of Britt and Kato tinkering with the image of their alter egos. What will they be called? (Green Bee promptly gets shot down.) What will they wear? What will they drive? It’s fun to watch them have fun, and these scenes allow Gondry’s whimsical sensibilities to peek through. Unfortunately, “The Green Hornet” can’t get by on charm alone. The movie dwells too much on Britt and Kato’s fraternal relationship at the expense of their adversarial relationship with Chudnofsky, the gang overlord gleefully played by Christoph Waltz.

Although less than perfect, “The Green Hornet” is a jolly action flick that comes as a pleasant surprise in a month that’s usually barren of good blockbusters.
 

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