“The Green Hornet” may have topped the box office this weekend, bringing in a respectable $34 million but its critical reception was mixed at best. Personally, this writer thought the film had some good laughs but really stumbled when going through the motions of yet another superhero origin story. More importantly, it was a far cry from director Michel Gondry’s best work (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, his music videos) and seemed like more of a compromise than a collaboration with star/co-writer/producer Seth Rogen. Well, according to an article in the LA Times that was exactly the case.
Apparently Gondry did not have final cut and butted heads with Rogen on the direction of the film. He also admitted, perhaps much to the dismay of fanboys claiming it clearly bore his visual imprint, that it was not his movie. While the French filmmaker doesn't go as far to say it was a work for hire gig, he does note that he wasn't on the top of the set hierarchy this time. ”Seth was as important, if not more important than the studio,” he said. “So I felt, ‘well, it’s not really my movie.’ I accepted that. But I realized there was still tons I could infiltrate or infuse my personality through discussion all the time.” That’s pretty disappointing to hear, considering how excited both star and director seemed to be at the beginning of this project.
Producer Neal Moritz said he and Rogen superseded Gondry's authority too, noting, “Coolio's 'Gangsta’s Paradise,’ Michel didn’t want that – but myself and Seth really wanted it,” he said. Gondry went on to add that although he “hated” some of the jokes when he shot them, he came around to them in the film later on.
Rogen does take full responsibility for one of the film’s most head-scratching moments: it's that same aforementioned musical setpiece. Rogen recalled, “I remember when we were shooting it, [Gondry] was sitting there with his arms crossed and a grumpy look on his face but there wasn’t a second when we thought we might be wrong. We were like, ‘You are going to feel so stupid when you see that this is the funniest [freaking] thing in the entire world.” Gondry may not have agreed but he was a good sport about it. He said of the song, “It’s not really me at all. But when I saw it, I really liked it.” As fans of both Gondry and Rogen, we’re glad to see the two ended up working everything out but would be surprised to see any future collaborations and/or Gondry ceding control to anyone else anytime soon.
“The Green Hornet” is in theaters now. -- Cory Everett