A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas Directed by: Todd Strauss-Schulson Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Thomas Lennon, Danny Trejo Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: R Release Date: November 4, 2011
PLOT: Former friends Harold & Kumar (Cho & Penn) try to replace the Christmas tree belonging to Harold's father-in-law (Trejo) after it is burned down by a magical marijuana joint.
WHO'S IT FOR? Familiarity with Harold & Kumar is not important, nor is having a particular taste for drug humor. This movie is just plainly entertaining. If you're looking for the most unsuspecting way to get into the Christmas spirit, celebrate Christmas with Harold & Kumar.
EXPECTATIONS: My memories of the first film were very hazy, and I missed the sequel, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. With its stoner comedy potential, I wasn't sure if the 3D would be ultimately necessary. Perhaps this would be just another disappointing money-grab, in 3D nonetheless?
John Cho and Kal Penn as Harold & Kumar: Now married and with a "1%"-like job, Harold is a sell-out, especially to his stoner brethren Kumar. If there were to be a "straight man" of the duo, that'd be Harold - but the film is more about the strange things that happens arguably to both of them. Cho has some funny lines made at his expense, but he plays the straight man well. As for Penn's character, still stuck in his ways that sent the duo previously to White Castle, Kumar is still smoking, even though he's about to receive a bombshell - his ex-girlfriend is pregnant with a 'lil Kumar. Penn is given the most opportunities to deliver the humor, and he does so quite well. Score: 7
Neil Patrick Harris as Neil Patrick Harris: Wow. He sings, he dances, he points out the futility of homophobia - NPH can do it all. An apparent prized cameo for the franchise, Harris makes another ridiculous and laugh-out-loud appearance here that goes to the very top with self-aware awesomeness. Any character that makes a reference to his role in Starship Troopers is alright by me. Score: 8
Rest of Cast: Danny Trejo and Thomas Lennon make amusing exaggerated depictions of their races, and show how their backgrounds influence their paternal instincts. Amir from CollegeHumor's "Jake & Amir" has a few funny moments involving trying to hook up with a mobster's crazy daughter, and then he just disappears. Score: 7
TALKING: A lot of the laughs from this third Harold & Kumar movie come from the script's winking sense of humor - it constantly references our own world, and not the one in which the film is set. For example, someone calls Cho "Sulu," and someone says, "I told her you work for the White House" to Penn. Such nods make the movie's sense of self-awareness even more enjoyable. Uptight white dad Lennon calls "Daddy Daughter Day" "3D," which is very funny. Score: 7
SIGHTS: The 3D may not be necessary, but it makes for some good gags in this Harold & Kumar, using the medium for simple bits like blowing smoke in the audience's face, or soaking up the opportunity to shove a claymation penis in the audience's face. Speaking of which, a brief Claymation sequence in the film is a stoner's Christmas miracle in itself. Even greater than that sight is a stop-motion sequence in a church, which looks beautiful, whether it's for a Harold and Kumar movie or not. Score: 8
SOUNDS: In keeping with the Christmas spirit, this movie supports the classic carols more than any inclination to play more modern music (it's not like this one ends with a sh*tty punk rock song during the credits). Perry Como's "It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas," Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," and Johnny Mathis' "Sleigh Ride" make prominent appearances. It's the kind of soundtrack you could buy your parents, if they're into RZA as well. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: I think Wafflebot's last words made me laugh the hardest (and the loudest). Luckily, I wasn't alone.
ENDING: Santa recovers after getting shot in the face, and Wafflebot lives on. WAFFLEBOT FOREVER.
QUESTIONS: Why can't we have more comedies like this? Why is this film smarter about race than almost any other movie of its kind?
REWATCHABILITY: Definitely. I would even like to see this one again before it leaves theaters.
For a while, I've been under the impression that I'd like to see more Christmas movies from Hollywood (or holiday movies in general). After experiencing the hilarious A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, I'm also under the influence that there should be more comedies just like this.
Harold & Kumar is a simple comedy, but offers a surprising amount of fun in such ease. It never takes its expectation to be a stoner comedy too seriously - instead, it prefers wild humor, and with a couple doses of holiday cheer thrown into the mix. On top of this, the movie strips away race by uniting every background in self-deprecating humor. And even better, the usage of 3D actually makes for some good gags, whether it's being winked at in the script, or blowing marijuana smoke out into the audience. With such genuine stupid comedy joy, what more could you ask for during this impending holiday season?
FINAL SCORE: 7/10