If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I want to read the script for this. I really do. I want to see if there is one salvageable piece to be found in it. More than that, I want to know who's to blame the most for this. Is it Seth Rogen, the writer, producer, and star? Is it Michel Gondry, the director who was originally slated to direct this as his debut feature in 1997? I will never know. But I feel it my duty to dissect this atrocity to cinema. But first, the movie...
What we get right off the bat is Tom Wilkinson as James Reid. Our hero's father. He is in approximately two scenes. Both with the same tenor. His son needs to get off his ass and do something, blah, blah, blah. And then, boom. He's dead. All I can think, is thank god he got out so easy. Mr. Wilkinson is a splendid actor, whose career bests include “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” (also by director Michel Gondry, and a personal favorite of mine) “John Adams,” (playing Ben Franklin in an Emmy/Golden Globe-winning performance) and “Michael Clayton.” I doubt he would ever put this on a resume. If one were to blink during the first ten minutes of this movie, you would surely miss him. Naturally, as the hero's father, his role is to be killed off. Which he does. But after the fact, isn't the whole point for them to be remembered? It sure isn't the case here. Yes,there are a lot of those “you're nothing like your father” moments, but really, who cares? That brings us to Britt.
He is played by the writer of the film, Seth Rogen. Doing things that are very Seth Rogen-y. Partying, acting like a mentally handicapped squirrel. Why bother calling him Britt, when it's so clearly Seth?Next!
Kato is played by Jay Chou, who may or may not be an actor, due to Rogen chewing up so much scenery that he barely gets a chance to display any talent aside from a Judo kick to the groin. Oh, and he works on cars and makes espresso. That's important to the plot I think.
I should probably add that there are a couple of characters in here played by Cameron Diaz and Edward James Olmos. Though, only the former is really important, as she might've been featured in the trailer. In the Special Features, Rogen and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, suggest that the character Diaz plays was beefed up so that she was more than just eye candy. That she becomes essentially the mastermind of their outfit. (Her having a background in Criminology and all) But, like all things about this movie, it falls flat on its face. Mr. Olmos was magnificent in his portrayal of Admiral Adama on “Battlestar Galactica,” which remains one of my favorite Sci-Fi programs alongside the original Star Trek series. On “Battlestar,” he was tough as nails, and was a well-rounded character. Here, it feels like he was dumped on the set, pointed in a direction, and told to “Just go with it.” What some people will do for a paycheck.
Oh, right. There are villains in here somewhere, I think. Christoph Waltz is our baddie here, ladies and gents. Mr. Waltz, who I think would make the best Col. Klink should they make a feature version of “Hogan's Heroes,” was not the first actor in line to play the bad guy. Nicholas Cage was. But he had the sense to back out. Too bad he couldn't have done the same for “Next.” Anyway, Mr. Waltz, hams it up as best he can with the material he's given, and comes off with a bad guy that's about an “Eh” on the Villain Scale. Oh, and there's another bad guy who is pretty obvious to us from the word “Go,” but, I'm not going to spoil that. Because I'm such a nice guy.
And that about wraps up the story and characters. I know you might not believe that, but it's true. It's pretty much a paint-by-numbers comic book movie. There aren't any real surprises the average five year old couldn't see coming, and it's pretty bland. That, and it has a bit more cursing than the average comic book movie many of us have been accustomed to. Examples being any of the Iron Man, Spiderman, or Batman movies. Maybe it's because he's not called “The Green Hornet Man”? In the others, I can't really seem to recall anyone cursing. But here, I'm pretty sure Rogen says “Shit” at least three dozen times. Now, it's not that I'm against cursing. I curse like a sailor, but in a comic book movie, to me, it signals that you've run out of ideas. That they have tons of source material to draw from, and yet they draw a blank, and decide to appeal to the lowest common denominator by using their status quo of potty mouth and corny jokes that were present in Rogen's past films.
So. Who's to blame? Michel Gondry had all my respect up until this point. The man has made solid films that were innovative in some way, and were a pleasure to watch; with “Eternal Sunshine” and “Science of Sleep” being particular favorites of mine. Here, I couldn't tell that this was a Michel Gondry movie. I'm so used to seeing mind-blowing in-camera special effects, and a story that could be creatively told. Is this what happens when a director accustomed to a small amount of financing gets a studio budget? It seems that's what happened to David Gordon Green. Who's he, you might be asking? Well he was once a prolific indie director, know for such films as “George Washington” and “All the Real Girls.” But you might know him as the director of “Pineapple Express” and “Your Highness.” Both with substantially larger budgets, and bigger stars. But here's my thing, I'm not that big of a David Gordon Green fan. I've seen “George Washington,” which is supposed to be this indie masterpiece, and thought it was a decent movie, but one that I didn't find all that entertaining. And, I suppose there's nothing wrong with that. I thought “Pineapple Express” was just okay, but again, nothing special. Here's my point: these Apatow/Seth Rogen-y projects are like the old Abbot & Costello pictures. They were all similar, but no one could tell you the directors of those pieces. With these films, this group just needs directors for their projects, so they'll work with anyone who's willing to work with them. Now me, I follow certain directors. Ones who I see as inspirational, or just damn fine filmmakers. And I can barely name a one of their directors. Why? Because none of them have done a movie in their own right. Or perhaps they have. Like I said, I can't name any of them.
Seth Rogen wrote the film. But my question, is did he write it with himself starring, or for someone else to play the role? Because if he wrote it for himself, he didn't think he should have to act as much, it seems. Or that anyone else should have to act like him for two hours. Then again, The Green Hornet isn't that interesting of a character in my opinion, and somehow they managed to muddle it even more with this movie. So in conclusion, I think they're all to blame. Maybe Seth just wanted to play dress-up, and Gondry just wanted to get some more money for a project he'd wanted to do for a while, and forgot his original idea, while becoming more mainstream in the process. Sadly, all the good actors don't get any material to work with, and all the bad actors get the rest. God help us all if this is a sign of things to come.
My Final Rating: .5/5 stars