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Movie Review

The Green Hornet

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content.

Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Crime Action Adventure Superhero 3D
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
January 14, 2011 (wide—3,500+ theaters)
DVD: May 3, 2011
Copyright, Columbia Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

What do Hollywood celebrities believe about spiritual issues? Find out

Why is there a disconnect between Hollywood and the rest of America? Answer

What is being done to change the values of Hollywood? Answer

Featuring: Cameron Diaz (Lenore Case), Seth Rogen (Britt Reid / Green Hornet), Christoph Waltz (Chudnofsky), Edward James Olmos (Michael Axford), Tom Wilkinson (James Reid), Edward Furlong (Tupper), Jay Chou (Kato), more »
Director: Michel Gondry—“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Be Kind Rewind,” “The Science of Sleep
Producer: Original Film Feature Films, Original Film, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), more »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

“breaking the law to protect it”

How do you approach a superhero story about men who dress up in funny costumes with strange names and battle crime? Over the years, directors have taken different approaches. The Batman series is a prime example of how directors have tried everything from campy humor (in the hilarious 1960s TV show) to the dark, brooding, philosophical approach (as in the equally great Christopher Nolan films). The Green Hornet might seem more fitting to the later, as it revolves around crime fighters who pretend to be underworld figures to strike fear into the crime bosses. Seth Rogen, however, opted for the former. Not necessarily a bad choice, except for one notable distinction. The 1960s Batman was funny. “The Green Hornet” is anything but funny, and anything but entertaining.

The story of the Green Hornet is similar to that of Batman—a rich Playboy who crawls the underworld to fight crime and strike fear into the hearts of villains. The twist is that he is, also, the head of a major newspaper that regularly portrays the Green Hornet as a villain, even attributing the murder of people by the mob to the Green Hornet himself. Promising stuff, except that the writer and star of “The Green Hornet” is not known for such material. On the contrary, Seth Rogen is known best as the actor/writer and/or producer of such raunchy, immoral comedies as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” “Superbad,” and “Pineapple Express.” That raunchy style of humor might work at drunken frat parties, but in a superhero film it is simply falls flat.

Britt Reid, our “hero,” is an obnoxious jerk and an arrogant idiot. Kato, his sidekick, is the real genius and mastermind behind the Green Hornet. Funny right? Well, Kato is definitely the most likable character in the film, but that is not saying much. Having a foul-mouthed, obnoxious hero does little to make the audience care about him or his exploits. This is a trend that is becoming all too common in Hollywood today. More and more films are absent true heroes, or even flawed men with good hearts. They are simply packed with rude egotists who are only heroes because the script says so.

Morally, the film is not suitable for children, at all. It is unfortunate that films like this can get a PG-13 rating seemingly based solely upon its brand name and the fact that all the butchery in the film is done without excessive blood, but does it really matter when a man has both eyes gouged by furniture equipment? Or when we see a tablesaw begin to cut a man’s arm off (the scene cuts away)? When we see men crushed under various objects with bodily limbs seen sticking out underneath? Nevertheless, there is some blood and countless acts of brutality and violence.

The violence, alone, would push PG-13 limits, but when we add the amount of language in the film, the PG-13 rating becomes a joke. There are literally more than two dozen instances of sh--, a half dozen references to male genitals (d---), several “a--holes,” a reference to the female vagina, the f-word, and countless “hells,” “damns” and taking of the Lord’s name in vain. According to one Web site which counts such words, there are over 80 cuss words in this PG-13 movie!

This is not all, however, for the sexual innuendoes, kicks the crotch, and a scene where Britt is in bed with a woman he does not know (no nudity is shown) add to the already long list of items which should have made this film R rated.

Now, if this is not bad enough, let’s talk about the quality of the film itself. CGI is overused, as usual, to make fight scenes look “cool,” but often distract from any realism that might have been offered, as well as becoming illogical. The action scenes are over the top, which might have worked in a campy film—had it actually been funny.

Unfortunately, most of the jokes backfire. Those that are not crude and rude involve Britt acting like a buffoon, such as the scene where he accidentally shoots himself with a gas gun, or awakens from a week long sleep to see himself wearing adult diapers. The few highlights of the film include Kato and the villain, who dubs himself Bloodnofski. Both work very well in their roles, but are stymied by a script which looks like it was written at one of the drunken frat parties featured in Seth’s previous films.

My advice is wait until DVD to see this film… if at all.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This movie is a fun popcorn flick, nothing more, nothing less. I enjoyed watching it. It wasn’t perfect, but the objectionable content could have been much worse than it was.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Kadie Joseph, age 18 (USA)


Negative—I agree with the reviewer 100%. I didn’t notice the language, but the violence was excessive and in several cases unnecessary. One scene featured a runaway cement truck bowl, I think it would have been funny to have it roll into traffic or roll back towards the heroes, but instead they opted to have it run over 2 screaming irrelevant bad(?) guys. The humor fell flat constantly. Only 3 scenes prompted me to laugh, and the rest of the theater was the same. And our anti-hero/hero (Reid) was too much of a constant jerk to like and with no redemption worth noting. The sidekick (Kato) was only marginally more likable, and he barely got to participate except for fighting. No morality whatsoever.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Kat, age 27 (USA)
Negative—As a norm, I usually review films on this site before I go to see them. I made a huge mistake by going to see The Green Hornet without waiting on the review. I can only say is that the site review is dead on. This movie is full of crass, lewd, and unnecessary language. I can’t believe this was PG-13.

Add on top of that a terrible portrayal in the campy style as mentioned above. I also spent $15 to see this in IMAX however it looked like another movie made for 2D and pushed into a 3D format to grab profits.

The younger folks may not find this as offensive but I regret seeing it and believe we as christians are becoming more desensitized to this junk that Hollywood keeps putting out.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Tom C., age 40 (USA)
Negative—I was very disappointed in the profanity the movie had. I viewed the movie on the night it came out, and the theater was full of small children. The profanity did not have anything whatsoever to do with the movie. The movie would have been much better, if the language was left out. Hollywood please get a clue that the public want to see movies minus the profanity. Thank you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Reneé, age 48 (USA)
Negative—The language and some mild sexual content make this film offensive in my view. With that aside, the film’s theme itself is average. Instead of the “feel good” feeling I got from watching “Spider-Man” and “Superman,” I got a bitter taste in my mouth from watching “The Green Hornet.” While good wins over evil in this film, the line separating the two is blurred as The Green Hornet and Kato act more like vigilantes than heroes.

The movie itself is poorly made with plot holes, bad acting, and bad dialogue abound. I was impressed by Christoph Waltz’s performance in “Inglourious Basterds” (it seems as if he plays a villain in every movie he’s in), but seeing him in “The Green Hornet” was like seeing two different actors. His performance was lackluster, to say the least. I felt that he wasted his Academy Award-winning talent in this film.

Thankfully, I used a gift certificate to watch the film instead of pay for it. Otherwise, I would’ve walked out and demanded my money back.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Shannon H., age 29 (USA)
Negative—“The Green Hornet” was an interesting movie to say the least. I had seen previews for this movie and decided to take my dad to go see it. I read the MPAA rating and figured it would be okay to see it. I was wrong. While the story was good (except for a few holes towards the end), the acting was fine, and the camera work was good, the sexual content/innuendos were moderate. However,the language was over the top. I heard words that I never expect to hear from a PG-13 rated movie and was surprised that this movie didn’t receive an R rating for language alone.

Like I said, everything else was fine, but the language was too much. And for that reason alone,sadly, I cannot recommend this movie to Christians.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Alexander Malsan, age 20 (USA)
Negative—I just returned from seeing the Green Hornet with my 14 yr old son and although I found the film entertaining I have to rate it negatively as a Christian because of the huge amount of profanity and the troublingly high body count.

It is such a shame because the film is very funny and well done in many ways, and it could have been great for kids and adults alike. But there are tons of four letter words/gestures (and many of the more colorful ones that are not in your typical PG13 movie). It is all mostly for comedic effect but unfortunately that may encourage kids to pick it up all the more.

Regarding the body count, there is not much blood, but there are countless killings, some pretty graphic and ruthless (it’s mostly the bad characters who suffer the worst violence …somehow we accept that… but should we?). It troubles me to see so much killing in what is a fairly light, action movie. It seems to be the way our entertainment is headed and I think it serves to desensitize our hearts and cheapen our view of life.

I don’t want that for myself or my family and so will be avoiding films like this. Again, such a shame. There was so much that could have been great entertainment for a younger and/or more conservative audience (i.e., their car, Black Beauty, is great). But the makers of these films have decided to go for a more R rated film.

Maybe they have learned that more often than not parents/conservatives will compromise their values and go see it anyway. I hope that this review will help you resist that.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—NP, age 48 (USA)
Negative—Do not see this film in 3D. It is a waste of money. It has very little in it that benefits from 3D. The 3D is excellent at a technical level—some of the best I have seen—but it does not enhance the movie.

The movie itself is a boring waste of time. If you want to go to sleep, you could watch this, but George Clooney’s vanity piece, “The American” would be better.

From a Christian point of view, this is a bad film, albeit there is not actual sex in the film. There is much implication of such behavior. The best way of understanding this film is to think that a drunken frat boy had seen a real “Green Hornet” picture and then sought to parody it. It is a bit like reading a film parody in Mad Magazine without the same intellectual panache.

It is not worth seeing. It is boring. The villain is a bit of a laugh, but the whole film tries to sustain a one joke parody for motion picture length, and it fails.

Why do I not give it a worse rating—very offensive or extremely offensive? I do not see this film as a deliberate attempt by the film school Left to corrupt people’s morals, although if you followed the behavior depicted on the film your conduct would be unChristian and immoral most of the time. I just think this is a drunken parody, done to get cheap laughs. It fails in its own terms.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Blue, age 52 (Australia)
Negative—I find it a little disturbing that violence like that shown in “The Green Hornet” is portrayed in a “comedy” fashion. Apart from the utter pig of a character that Reid is and the excess use of language, even if it may not be as bad as other films, to make light heart of this kind of thing is a problem.

Yes, some of the “jokes” were funny and within the context of their presentation, even I had to chuckle, but at the end of the day we are losing the plot if we have to swallow 10 tons of garbage just to digest an ounce of humour. It’s like putting heaps of MSG on your food to enhance the taste, ultimately it ends up killing you. Killing people is portrayed as “fun,” and I find that disturbing for the target market this movie is aimed for let alone it not being suitable for anyone regardless of age.

The review presented on this Web site is a fairly accurate portrayal of the movie’s contents, and I would not bother watching it again and would suggest to anyone considering seeing it or watching the DVD to go and see something else. Even if you want to turn a “blind eye” to some of Hollywood’s content, and you like action movies, you have to draw a line, and this one went over it. My older teens agreed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Marten Jak, age 47 (Australia)
Comments from young people
Positive—…just got back from the film a half hour ago, me and my mom have been waiting for it since 2009, needless to say, I was not disappointed at all! loved the film, the action was good, but the violence was a bit over the top, not suitable for children, if you had put more blood in, it would have earned an R rating for sure, but the violence in a way seemed, almost, slapstick, like, it was meant not to be taken seriously, but one thing i would like to point out, is that Britt Reid’s mind change from playboy to hero and his respect for his dad comes a bit late, which is slightly annoying, but, you get over it, the “sensuality” is pretty soft and doesn’t last long, but I was disgusted over the thought that he was in bed with a girl he couldn’t remember the name to. This is a hero who has to change the way he thinks, and become a better person, but all rapped up, this film is not kid friendly, teens and adults only is the best move, but, great movie! enjoyed it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Zig Chilldress, age 16 (USA)
Positive—I must say that I find myself in disagreement with your review of director Michel Gondry’s “The Green Hornet.” I wish to (respectfully, of course) express some of my discrepancies with your assessment, in order to provide an alternate, more relaxed perspective. “The Green Hornet” is simply a fun action comedy (one of the best that genre has offered in years, I believe). If Rogen’s character, Britt Reid, were Christ-like, the film would be a colossal bore. He’s the Green Hornet, not Bibleman. Most of the film’s comedy revolves around Reid being a somewhat bone-headed egomaniac and how Kato and other characters react to that. There is nothing funny about two competent, modest crime-fighters. Without Reid’s incompetence and arrogance, the humor of the film, its strongest asset, is destroyed.

Fictional vigilantes need not be role models. This film was made merely to entertain, and I cannot fathom it corrupting even the most impressionable child. There is no content in the film which merits an R-rating. The profanity is tame compared to most elementary schoolyards nowadays, the violence is nearly bloodless and intentionally over-the-top, and the sexual content is rather mild.

The scene in which Reid awakens next to a (clothed) woman is very brief and inexplicit. It’s nothing more than a refreshingly lighthearted, action-packed way to spend about two hours.

My conservative, Baptist father and I (a non-denominational, fairly liberal Christian and former atheist) took in a matinee of “The Green Hornet” this weekend and both enjoyed it very much. I would recommend it to all of my friends, and I believe it is appropriate viewing for families and children. Thank you for allowing me to express my opinions, and God bless.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Matthew, age 17 (USA)
Positive—…good …I see a lot of people don’t like the film because of the language, but truly it wasn’t that bad compared to a lot of other films… it was funny and cool at the same time. I would go to watch it… would suggest it for ages 15+ because of the random stuff that a PG-13 movie would be like overall it’s good.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Devin, age 17 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—Thank you for your candid review. As a result, I WILL NOT go see it. I grew up with the Green Hornet radio show, and he was one of my heroes. I greatly resent Hollywood garbaging up one of the icons of my youth.

Some trivia. Brett Reid was the son of Dan Reid who was the nephew of the Lone Ranger, and the son of his brother Dan Reid killed in the massacre that spawned his title. Dan Jr. rode a horse named “Victor.” I remember when Kato became Phillipino after 7 December 1941. He had been Japanese prior to that date. In addition, I was a member of the 20th Special Operations Squadron in Viet-Nam whose nickname was the “Green Hornets.” For shame, Hollywood, for shame!!
—cowboy.tom, age 72 (USA)
Neutral—Is it not clear evidence that the younger generation is being desensitized to violence and crudeness? Look at the 4 reviews. 2 negative from older people, and 2 from younger. Both having opposite reactions to the same movie. While I am indifferent to this movie, I must say the way movies are going now days seem to offend me more and more. Or is it me being convicted more and more…?
—Kevin, age 28 (Canada)
Negative—Hubby turned off this movie after about 20 minutes… said it should be rated “R,” due to the bad language. Can’t remember if this was before or after he said it was “stupid.” Vulgar words for body parts used, other cuss words… Even without cable,we can find something better than this to watch.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Ann, age 53 (USA)