Kinda-Review: Green Hornet (In Which I Become An Old Fuddy-Duddy)


I wanted to go see Tron again.

Heather was going out for a girls’ night with some friends, so the boys and I were having a guys’ night — dinner and a movie. There aren’t many kids’ movies out right now; and they’d pretty much seen them, except for Yogi Bear, and I do have some standards.

I’d seen Tron thrice before, and the boys had seen it twice. They’d seen Green Hornet once before, and I’d not seen it at all, and Finn really pushed for Green Hornet (because he wanted me to see it) over Tron.

I normally would have balked at the PG-13 rating — the recommended age is older than both boys put together — but their granny had already taken them, and all involved swore it wasn’t that bad. So I’m not going to be exposing them to anything they haven’t already seen. Well, OK, then, Green Hornet it is.

I should have stuck with Tron.

The thing that I’ve been wondering since then is whether it was really that reprehensible, or whether it was just my perspective was different watching it with the boys. What would I have thought if I was watching it by myself?

And it was reprehensible. The “heroes” treated each other badly. They treated women badly. Their language was awful. They fought police and put them in mortal danger on a lark. (And these are the good guys.) They were cavalier about destruction of property and endangering bystanders. Arguably, they had no redeeming traits at all. Sure, there’s a “redemptive” level of “helping others,” but it’s really far more about their own self-indulgence; their “help” is self-centered, dangerous and largely unproductive. Even their climactic battle, presented as being important, is ultimately pretty whimsical.

And I’ll admit a further bias that, while I’ve never been a huge Green Hornet fan, I felt like the movie was disrespectful to the original source, which is something that’s a big turn-off for me in movies. If you want to remake  a property, remake it in the spirit of the original. If you want to make something in a different spirit, then use some creativity and do it with your own invention instead of someone else’s.

So I can’t swear that I wouldn’t have enjoyed Green Hornet if I had seen it by myself, but I would imagine probably not. (Adding to this theory — I’ve never seen, nor had any desire to see, any other Seth Rogen movie.)

But it’s another piece of evidence for the state in the growing case that being around the boys is making me an old fuddy-duddy. Exhibit #193 — Last week, I was at the comic book store, picking up my weekly comics. (A good exhibit for the defense, let the record show.) Caden wanted a book, and I grabbed a Star Wars comic off the shelf because it featured on the cover a large number of Clone Troopers, which Caden loves. (I’m not sure whether the prosecution or plaintiff arguments are supported better by the fact that part of me finds it wrong that their post-prequel upbringing makes them think stormtroopers are good guys and not care about Han Solo.)

Flipping through it, I saw that it showed Anakin, sans a good chunk of his arms and legs, dangling from the ceiling, having his cybernetic systems replaced. Later in the book, and somewhat subtly, a minor character’s head is visible mid-frame, having been removed from its proper place via lightsaber. Is this appropriate for a five-year-old? How am I supposed to know? Is it any worse than the last Star Wars movie, which he’s seen?

And I found myself thinking a weird thought, that I never thought I would think.

And let me point out, I think it should be optional, I think you should be able to publish whatever sort of comic book you want, but I think there should be a way of knowing what comic books are appropriate for what audiences.

But, dadgumit, I miss when books were approved by the Comics Code Authority.

Review (Kind Of): “Tron Legacy”


kevin and sam flynn in tron legacy

For the sake of full disclosure, I’m biased.

I’m biased in part because I was born at the right time to love the original Tron, and had conversations in college about how cool a sequel could be. (Answer: Not nearly as cool then as it could be now, given how movie-making has changed in the intervening years.) So I wanted to see a sequel to Tron, and I wanted to like it.

But I’m biased for another reason. I still have vague memories of my dad taking me to see the original Tron in the theater that used to be in what used to be Parkway City Mall the year I turned seven. Friday night, Heather needed to do some Christmas shopping, so I took the boys, seven and almost-five, to see Tron Legacy. And it was really cool sharing with Finn something that I got to do at the same age. As an added bonus, the next day, we all went to a Christmas church service Sunday night, and I got to watch Finn and my dad talking about Tron, getting to be both the kid and the adult at the same time.

Arguably, that was the ideal way to see Tron Legacy — with the recaptured joy of the child that I was 28 years ago, and vicariously through the fun of a child enjoying the neon thrills of the new film. For all the world-building and exposition and family emotion, it’s still, ultimately, a movie about guys that throw glowing Frisbees at each other. It’s a tribute to how much fun the original Tron was, and this movie is, that they can make kids want to leave the theater and have fights with Frisbees.

And it is fun. It’s pretty and frenetic and glossy and cool, and unabashedly and unapologetically fun. Thanks to changes in technology and movie-making over the intervening years, it’s a much more polished and mature and accessible film than the original Tron, with a more rooted emotional core, but at the same time it takes itself less seriously in a lot of ways. As critics will point out, it’s not perfect, but, really, that’s OK.

And me? I bought my toy Tron disc the next night.