Movie Reviews: The Green Hornet (**1/2), The Dilemma (**)

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THE GREEN HORNET, directed by Michel Gondry, Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, and Christoph Waltz.  PG-13.  108 mins.
Seth Rogen may not be the first person that comes to mind when you think superhero.  But when he started losing all that weight for his role in The Green Hornet, which he also co-wrote, I thought that maybe he was going to take his acting seriously and try to stretch a little, proving all the doubters wrong.  Turns out, he's just taken The Green Hornet property and shaped it into the typical Seth Rogen Movie.  Instead of feeling out of place, he's brought the character down to his level.  If you like Rogen, which I do, then you'll probably enjoy a good portion of the movie.  If he's not your cup of tea, I'd recommend holding out for Ryan Reynolds in that other "Green" superhero film.  Rogen's take on The Green Hornet is a ramshackle action comedy, backed by some super-stylish visual mayhem courtesy of director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).  The real action star here is Jay Chou's Kato, Rogen is more comic relief.  The two have nice chemistry though (when you can understand what Chou is saying) and there's a neat, lengthy fight scene between them.  The movie starts off great, with a killer funny cameo from James Franco.  For about an hour afterwards too, The Green Hornet is reasonably clever and fun, though the choppy editing suggests trouble ahead.  True to form, the movie starts wearing out its welcome at the midway point, right around when Cameron Diaz' pointless character starts getting more screen time.  The action then turns generic and your attention level dips.  As far as January offerings go, you could do a lot worse.  Speaking of doing worse, there's:
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THE DILEMMA, directed by Ron Howard, Starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, and Winona Ryder.  PG-13.  118 mins.
Ron Howard is an Oscar-winning director who makes watchable films.  He's dabbled in a number of different genres, usually to moderate-to-very successful results.  The fact that he keeps your interest in his latest, is a testament to his talent behind the camera.  Though you can't help but question his taste after seeing The Dilemma.  Written by Allan Loeb (The Switch, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), this is one of the worst screenplays I've ever seen so many talented people get behind and produce.  When I think about all the scripts that Howard probably has sent to him - he has his pick of the litter.  There are so many undeveloped scripts by struggling writers that are worth pursuing, just laying on some script reader's table, and Howard and his stable of quality actors choose this one?  The story is trite and reed-thin: Vaughn catches his best buddy's (Kevin James) wife in an affair and then struggles with when and how to tell him.  That's about it.  Some misunderstandings and hijinks ensue, but there isn't much in the way of plot.  Vaughn does a nice job and Jennifer Connelly is a welcome, if under-used, presence, but everyone else is stuck playing ridiculously inconsistent characters.  James, Winona Ryder, and Channing Tatum aren't even playing real people.  They are mere instruments of Loeb's typing - changing personality traits and motives on a whim depending on the demands of the script.  The ending - set at a Chicago Blackhawks game - is a real groaner, like something out of a different movie altogether.  The real dilemma of The Dilemma is that it's an unfunny and ill-conceived serio-comedy.  You may not regret seeing it, but you'll certainly regret spending any money on it.

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