Monday, November 7, 2011

Movie Review: A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas

A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas ***
Directed by: Todd Strauss-Schulson.
Written by: Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg.
Starring: Kal Penn (Kumar), John Cho (Harold), Neil Patrick Harris (Neil Patrick Harris), Tom Lennon (Todd), Amir Blumenfeld (Adrian), Paula Garc├ęs (Maria), Danny Trejo (Mr. Perez), Patton Oswalt (Mall Santa), Bobby Lee (Kenneth Park), RZA (Lamar), Da'Vone McDonald (Latrell), Jordan Hinson (Mary), Elias Koteas (Sergei Katsov), Yasen Peyankov (Yuri), John Hoogenakker (Gustav), Eddie Kaye Thomas (Rosenberg), David Krumholtz (Goldstein), Richard Riehle (Santa Claus).

The Harold and Kumar movies are among the crudest, gross out humor movies in the past few years. The difference between them and most of the others of its ilk is that they are also funny. Very funny. As I grow older, I don’t find that much humor in bodily fluids, not that I ever really did but it’s even less now. But somehow, these movies have always made me laugh. They are clever, and the play with the genre just a little bit. Here, for example, is a 3-D movie that knows just how ridiculous 3-D movies are. They don’t try to hide from it, and rather they embrace it. While many 3-D movies hurl things at the camera in an attempt to make things look cool, this movie hurls things at the camera to let you know that they know just how ridiculous it is to hurl things at the camera. I liked that.

It’s been a few years since Harold and Kumar escaped from Guantanamo Bay, and got high with President Bush. In that time, Harold has gotten married to the object of his affection Maria, made a success of himself on Wall Street, and has moved into a big house in suburban New Jersey. Kumar has done very little except get high, staying in the apartment he used to share with Harold. The two haven’t even seen each other in a few years. But on Christmas Eve, a package arrives at the apartment addressed to Harold – and Kumar decides to deliver it to his old friend. And as always happens when Harold and Kumar get together, things go horribly wrong, and Harold Christmas tree is burnt to cinder. This wouldn’t normally be a huge deal, but that tree was grown by Maria’s father (played by Machete himself Danny Trejo), and he already hates Harold, and made a big deal about the tree. Harold has until his in laws return from Midnight Mass to replace the tree. And of course, Kumar says he’ll help out. What happens from there, I’ll let you discover, but needless to say, it involves drugs, alcohol, violence, Neil Patrick Harris, Russian gangsters, nudity and waffle making robot.

By this, the third movie, Kal Penn and John Cho have their characters down cold – so much so, that they will forever be associated with these roles. Penn has moved on from acting, into working in politics for the White House, but I guess he couldn’t resist one more movie Harold and Kumar outing. I see John Cho pop up in small supporting roles once in a while, but this may just end up being the only starring role he gets. That was part of the reason why they made the movies in the first place – because they were not making any movies like this with actors like Penn and Cho. They have an effortless chemistry together that simply works. The rest of the cast comes and goes – often for only a scene or two – but they seem to be having fun. And as a result, so do we.

I really don’t have much more to say about the movie. This is not the pitch perfect, anti-Christmas comedy that Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa (2003) was. That film went for broke, and cheerfully tried (and succeeded) in offending just about everyone – but was also hilarious. Harold and Kumar is less offensive, and more good hearted. I couldn’t help but enjoy myself while watching the movie.

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