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Winsor McCay -- The Master Edition

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Gertie the Dinosaur, born of Winsor McCay

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It’s not as patently offensive and worthless as Will Ferrell’s Land of the Lost, but this take on The Green Hornet doesn’t earn a lot of positive buzz.

The Daily Sentinel

The Green Hornet and Kato
The Green Hornet and Kato

Back in 1966, riding on the wave of popularity generated by the campy TV adventures of Batman, with Adam West as the caped crusader, another old-time masked hero hit the airwaves: The Green Hornet. Like Batman, the Green Hornet was born in the 1930s and both have found an enduring popularity through the ages and across all types of media. In particular, the Green Hornet had a long-running radio series, airing for 16 years and spanning over three decades.

Thematically, Green Hornet and Batman also have quite a bit in common. Both are playboys living in luxury and with money to burn. Both have a desire to do right and punish the bad guys, and both fulfill their ambitions while working at odds with the men in blue.

What set The Green Hornet’s short-lived TV series apart was the introduction of none other than Bruce Lee as Kato, Britt’s sidekick. But, after that, the Green Hornet more or less fell off the mainstream radar and floundered in relative obscurity.

Now Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) has resurrected Britt Reid, but unfortunately he’s imbued the story with an over-the-top humor that relies heavily on Rogen’s sexist stylings.

Words of Wisdom

Things start off with a young Britt Reid getting busted for fighting at school. It’s enough to push his father, James Reid, the editor-in-chief at the Daily Sentinel, over the edge. James rips the head off Britt’s favorite large-size action figure, throws it in the garbage, and admonishes Britt, “Trying doesn’t matter when you always fail.”

That’s not exactly an inspiring theme upon which to hang a super hero story. That trick was done with much greater effect in Batman Begins, with the repeated question, “Why do we fall down?” And the inspiring answer, “So we can learn how to pick ourselves back up.”

Of course, the uber-classic of heroic themes came in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

And so it is, with that thud of a message, that Britt goes on to become a spoiled, drunk partier without a care in the world and not much in the way of brain cells in the noggin.

Bummed out by a bad cup of coffee after his dad dies, allegedly from a bee sting, Britt goes on a rampage to find the guy who used to make his coffee. Turns out Britt fired the entire Reid Manor staff the day before, including the coffee man, Kato (Jay Chou, Curse of the Golden Flower). The cup of java Britt so enjoyed every morning was brewed in an extravagant contraption created by Kato, who also loaded up James Reid’s automobiles with all sorts of gadgets, weaponry, and gear in attempts to soothe James’ paranoia.

And, yeah, Kato’s also an expert at the martial arts.

City Under Siege

Once the action kicks into gear, Britt and Kato pose as villains in order to infiltrate the networks of gangs and drug dealers and blow them up from the inside, literally and figuratively. The movie then swings between quasi-raunchy comedy and ultra-violent action. Unfortunately, neither aspect offers much new.

In the humor department, Britt and Kato spend a good part of the time butting heads and they get into a knock-down, drag-out fight that screams of Inspector Clouseau fighting with his sidekick, Cato. Sadly, though, a good portion of the humor is Britt simply being a misogynistic pig flipping unwanted advances and innuendos at his secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day).

As for the action, the main heavy is a gangland kingpin named Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds) and he’s big on gunplay. A fairly small guy with bland taste in apparel, he makes up for his non-descript, mundane exterior with a nasty interior and a double-barrel gun. There’s nothing really at stake in this inconsequential story. Nonetheless, the bullets fly with a generosity that rivals The Expendables.

There’s also a preposterous chase sequence in which one of the duo’s Black Beauty cars is driven into an elevator and sliced in two. Since it’s a two-wheel drive, they’re able to drive the front half of the car off the elevator and through the cube farm of the Daily Sentinel, wreaking all sorts of havoc. James Bond did it better, though, in A View to a Kill.