If the comics and movies have taught us anything it’s that being a superhero is not fun. Sure, you can do whatever a spider can and leap tall buildings in a single bound, but it never seems to make the people who can do that happy. Did you ever see Batman go out for a spin in the Tumbler, just cruisin’ and listening to some beats?

Then there was Tony Starke/Iron Man. Tony was a spoiled brat, an arrogant, self-centered hedonist (is that redundant?) until the life-changing accident that led him to become Iron Man. He does find a new purpose for his life but… When he takes his new suit out for a test drive, tools it around like one of his sports cars. He chooses colors that “jazz” it up. He has fun defending Truth, Justice and the American Way.

That was the tact that filmmakers took with The Green Hornet, which is listed in the theater times not as an action-adventure movie or even a fantasy but as a comedy. The superhero genre wasn’t deconstructed a la Kick-Ass or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World but reconstructed as “What if the guys in The Hangover had access to the Batcave…?”

Brett Reid is the son of crusading newspaper publisher James Reid. Brett is not so much a disappointment to his father as he is an annoyance; the party never stops when Brett’s in the house. When he father suddenly dies Brett inherits the newspaper and his father’s mechanic, who is also a supreme martial artist, mechanical genius and makes a perfect cappuccino. In the middle of an act of alcohol-inspired vandalism they prevent a crime and in a later moment of alcohol‑induced inspiration, they decide to become crime fighters.

That’s about as deep as things get in The Green Hornet, kind of like what might happen if Russell and Timmy on Rules of Engagement decided to become masked vigilantes. (Don’t worry if you don’t watch the show, it’s an apt analogy.) Or like the Tick and Arthur.

The most refreshing thing about the movie is it keeps things small: no archvillain out to rule (or destroy) the world, no criminal mastermind exploring some existential question, just drug dealers, and rather 9-to-5 ones at that. This is not to say that the script is dumbed-down; it is very carefully crafted and moves along swiftly, liberally “borrowing” from everywhere: a pinch of Dark Knight, a dash of the recent Sherlock Holmes, even a shout-out to the 1960s Batman TV series.

The Green Hornet is the perfect popcorn movie and just like its title character: big, loud, fun, dumb and not the worst way to spend a couple of hours.

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