A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this superhero flick is really more of a "bromantic" comedy, with lots of childish language and violence. Fairly frequent strong language includes "s--t" and "ass" and their many variations, plus "p---y," "d--k," and one use of "f--k." Sexuality and alcohol are concentrated in the first third of the movie, including a fair bit of partying and one scene in which Britt (Seth Rogen) wakes up in bed with a bra-clad woman. There are no big life lessons to learn or strongly positive role models, as the two main characters aren't morally righteous superheroes we're used to in similar films. Instead, they're basically independently financed boys with toys who do good more for kicks than out of a real sense of duty. Note: The 3-D version of the movie has heightened martial arts/action sequences.
What's the story?
Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is the heir to a storied Los Angeles newspaper dynasty, but he prefers to spend his time -- and his father's money -- partying and wooing a parade of beautiful women. When his publisher father, James (Tom Wilkinson), suddenly dies, Britt is left with a newspaper to run, but all he cares about is finding the servant who makes an unforgettable latte. It turns out the coffee guy is James' car mechanic, Kato (Jay Chou, stepping into the role that Bruce Lee made famous in the '60s TV series), who has hidden engineering and martial arts skills. Britt decides the two of them should use his money and Kato's talent to be the "good guys" in a city that's slowly slipping into the dangerous grasp of crimelord Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). With help from unsuspecting secretary/amateur criminologist Lenore (Cameron Diaz), Britt and Kato try to clean up the streets and sever the paper's ties with a corrupt politician.
Is it any good?
Although the movie's opening is well acted, brilliantly written, and comedically paced, the rest of THE GREEN HORNET is a mixed bag. Yes, Rogen is perfect as a rich party boy who never amounted to much, but the movie hinges on his chemistry with his man/bro/employee, Kato. Chou is difficult to understand at times, and his rapport with Rogen seems forced, which is a first for a Rogen film. The Green Hornet is, at heart, a superhero "bromance," and since the bromance in question is so silly and unbelievable, it doesn't add up to the pleasant odd-couple pairings we're used to (Jackie Chan's goofball sidekick comedies come to mind).
Obviously director Michel Gondry isn't trying to make a Serious Superhero Film a la Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton, or Bryan Singer. But did Britt really need to sound like a 9-year-old boy who's just gotten ahold of some really cool toys? That works for an audience of, yes, tween boys, but adults may find it tiring. On the bright side, it's refreshing to see Diaz play a woman who has no interest in the superheroes. She's no Lois Lane or Mary Jane Watson hoping to steal another kiss from a dashing hero ... because Britt and Kato basically aren't superheroes. They're two guys with enough money (courtesy of Britt) and smarts (courtesy of Kato) to pull off some brave stunts. But that's not to say there aren't laughs, because there are -- however puerile they might be -- and there's even a tiny tribute to Lee in one quick scene. Perhaps the Lee nostalgia will be enough for grown men and teenage boys, but the movie may leave many moviegoers checking their watches between laughs.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: January 14, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: May 3, 2011
- Cast: Christoph Waltz, Jay Chou, Seth Rogen
- Director: Michel Gondry
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.