Only inertia will bring people to Michel Gondry's new 3-D spectacle. Opening amid persistent negative buzz in the mid-January dead zone, this long-germinating prospective franchise, based on a character who first saturated the nation's radio waves in 1939, seems pretty much DOA. The narrative has something to do with the flagrantly irresponsible son 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 a crooked D.A. (David Harbour). Rather than a $90 million Gondry head trip à la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the largely retrofitted 3-D action extravaganza is a $90 million Seth Rogen comedy (he stars and 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.
Rogen hits on Diaz, hard.
Opens at Pacific Place and other theaters, Fri., Jan. 14. Rated PG-13. 118 minutes.