Only inertia will bring people to Michel Gondry's 3-D spectacle, The Green Hornet. Opening amid persistent negative buzz in the mid-January dead zone, this long-germinating prospective franchise, based on a character that first saturated the nation's radio waves in 1939, seems pretty much DOA.
The narrative has something to do with the flagrantly irresponsible son (Seth Rogen) of a crusading newspaper publisher redeeming himself, after Dad's death, as a flagrantly irresponsible, costumed do-gooder thanks largely to the help of his employees: the genius sidekick and "human Swiss army knife" Kato (Chinese pop star Jay Chou) and the unnaturally intelligent looker he hires as his secretary (Cameron Diaz).
Working sometimes at cross-purposes, the three succeed in ridding Los Angeles of a local crime czar (Christoph Waltz) and crooked D.A. (David Harbour). Rather than a $90 million Gondry head trip à la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this largely retrofitted 3-D action extravaganza is a $90 million Seth Rogen comedy (he also co-wrote).
Rogen's Green Hornet is not the first facetious, costumed crime-fighter, but few have been as doggedly unattractive. That the Green Hornet is also a raging asshole provides most of the movie's humor. At his loudmouthed best, Rogen's relentless self-justifying blather can suggest a proudly stupid Albert Brooks; at his worst, as when tirelessly (or is it tiresomely?) hitting on co-star Diaz, he's simply Seth Rogen.