A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS Review

As odd as it may sound Harold and Kumar are all about responsibility. That is, at least, the picture painted this time around by our favorite Indian and Korean stoners; that life isn't always going to be care free and weed dependant is a shocking revelation to Kal Penn's Kumar while John Cho's Harold has accepted that fact and moved up in the world with a beautiful wife and a "not shitty" place to live. In sitting down to watch this latest installment of the Harold and Kumar saga it did come to mind that it really has been to long since we've seen this pair on screen. The first adventure where "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" was pure stoner comedy genius. It was the kind of film, especially if you're a guy like me who is to scared to touch an illegal drug, that one could live vicariously through while experiencing all the fun of getting high without suffering any of the negative effects. When they followed it up four years later with "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" things became even more ridiculous if not as pleasing. Still, the center at both films was the dynamic best friend relationship these guys had. Harold has always been the guy ready to get ahead, trying so hard for everyone else to see him as a winner, while Kumar could care less what your public perception of him is. This still rings true and these characterizations form the basis for the newest film in which the creators do a smart job of not just giving us another "stoner comedy" but one that satirizes every Christmas movie you've ever seen as well as the current 3D craze while utilizing both of these tools to their advantage.
Harold is trying desperately to win the approval of his
father-in-law Mr. Perez (Danny Trejo).
In the years that have passed since the Guantanamo Bay fiasco Harold and Kumar have grown apart. They've even replaced each other with new, white guy best friends. Harold's in the form of Tom Lennon's Todd, the man with the baby who gets the biggest running gag in the movie after accidentally getting high off weed, coke, and ecstasy. Then there is Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld), Kumar's stoner roommate who drags him to a party where he will get to de-flower a virgin for reasons unbeknown to him other than believing he is that lucky (suffice to say, he is not). How do Harold and Kumar reunite you ask? I was wondering the same thing as it seemed their Chrstmas Eve nights would take on two different tasks, but it is when Kumar receives a package for Harold at their old apartment that he feels the need to deliver it. Harold is having problems on the home front as he and his wife Maria are trying to have a child which can be hard to do when the impending arrival of your in-laws is hanging over your head. To make matters worse, Harold has felt the pressure to live up to Maria's fathers Christmas traditions and to impress him with his Christmas spirit when he arrives. Best part about this whole scenario is that Harold's father-in-law, Mr. Perez, is played by Danny Trejo. Trejo has become a kind of cult movie star and just enthuses a badass-ness into any line he mutters making Maria's Hispanic heritage seem all the more ripe for fodder when Mr. Perez shows up with his entire extended family. Surprise, surprise, Mr. Perez is not impressed by the fake tree Harold has rounded up and quickly replaces it with his own (the real one he has been growing for eight years) which Harold promises to have decorated by the time Maria and her family return from midnight mass.

Harold and Kumar re-unite with ole' NPH for a
Christmas musical number.
It is safe to assume some shenanigans happen before one ornament is placed on the tree and that package Kumar delivers contains a substance that quickly burns down Mr. Perez's pride and joy so our pair is off in hot pursuit to find a replacement. As with both previous installments this is a race to accomplish something before the night is through and that still works, I don't have a problem with using the same formula as long as the journey gives us a different story. This is why it was smart to bring in the Christmas element. While going through the night and encountering the unexpected (or in the audience's case, the expected) there is not only a sense of familiarity with who these guys are now, but there is also the delight of seeing them play up all the Christmas-time cliches. There are plenty of offensive jokes for Christians, Jews, and pretty much every other religion or race. There is the hopped up baby which is more funny than creepy, a sequence of claymation that is pure golden, and of course Santa Claus getting all shot up. They are jokes you really do feel bad about laughing at, ones that you almost can't believe they make, but then again you are laughing so you are kind of glad someone said it.

From Left: Todd (Tom Lennon), Harold (John Cho), Kumar
(Kal Penn), and Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) begin their
adventure together.
The film moves along at a nice pace, never slowing down too much to make us look at our watches and keeps consistent laughs throughout. Yea, there are a few shout-outs to real life events that fall flat, but the biggest one in the film is the best thing about the movie. Making his return as himself NPH (Neil Patrick Harris) offers a rendition of a Christmas musical that is a home run and follows it up with making fun of himself and how the "gay" thing is just a PR stunt and an opportunity to score him more...

As far as a final verdict goes, I don't believe these guys will ever be able to top the first, simplistic adventure of making it to white castle. This "Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" certainly comes in second though as that story in Guantanamo Bay simply tried to be too much, too outlandish even. In keeping the task simple and the attaining of it harder than it ever should be these guys are back to doing what they do best. There are some great cameos throughout though a storyline featuring Elias Koteas as a mob boss is too underdeveloped to become in some sense the climax of the film. There is a weird Christmas toy named wafflebot that the writers used too much to an advantage and isn't as awesome as Kumar would like to believe. But overall this is a great alternative to all the standard Holiday films we will be bombarded with this season and gives us genuine laughs with good ole' friends in some of the best 3D you will see this year. What more could you want from a stoner comedy?