Is it really time to start rolling out the Christmas movies, Hollywood? The first week of November? I suppose that’s pretty par for the course, but I can tell you that it’s kind of hard to get into the Christmas cheer with the actual holiday so far away. I suppose you’ve got a ton a of holiday films lined up so you have to stagger this stuff.
And if you were going to release one early I’d probably want it to be something like A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas since the holiday aspect isn’t the entire film’s thrust. No, when we talk Harold and Kumar we’re pretty much talking weed and inappropriate humor with Christmas playing the same role as White Castle in the original film. So how do H & K stand up three movies into a franchise that no one would have expected to become a franchise? Is Christmas the new White Castle or are we stuck in the lackluster days of Guantanamo Bay? More importantly is NPH still awesome?
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Release: November 4, 2011
I’ll answer that last question right of the bat. Of course NPH is still awesome. The fact that you doubted that is really troubling. Respect.
A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas finds our two titular heroes having gone their separate ways. Harold (John Cho) is now a wealthy executive living with his gorgeous wife Maria (Paula Garcés). Kumar (Kal Penn) on the other hand has once again left medical school, lost his girlfriend and is living in filth smoking weed. The two haven’t seen each other for a long while since Harold thinks Kumar ruins everything and Kumar thinks Harold is a chode. A bit of a stretch considering that’s the main conceit of all the arguments in every film, but this movie has a baby doing coke so worries about plot holes really don’t stand out.
Enter into this situation Maria’s father (Danny Trejo) and her entire Hispanic family who come over to celebrate Christmas. Maria’s father has brought his prized Christmas tree to Harold’s house, but when a mysterious package for Harold gets delivered accidentally to Kumar, Kumar heads over to drop it off and through a bit of Christmas magic Maria’s father’s prized Christmas tree gets burnt to the ground. Now the two have until 2 a.m. to retrieve a new Christmas tree on Christmas eve, and like the previous two films things do not go so well.
AVHKC suffers from the same thing the second film did in that it is not the first film. When White Castle came on the scene it was such a shockingly funny film that also somehow managed to tell a great story and revitalize the career of Neil Patrick Harris. As such any sequel won’t be as good as it simply because it can’t feel as fresh and unique. That being said AVHKC feels far more complete than the second film. Where that film felt like a series of hit and miss vignettes this one is a complete whole more like the first film. Harold and Kumar’s interplay is far more interesting this time and the fall on the floor laughing moments come way more often.
While many of the hilarious moments come from the film actually being clever a lot of them come from some pretty stupid stuff that somehow works. Much like riding on the back of the Cheetah in the original movie was ludicrously stupid, but seemed to fit a lot of the humor in AVHKC functions like that. A waffle-making robot that is introduced in the beginning of the film and seems like a completely missed joke until a scene later on when it delivers one of the best lines of the film: “They serve pancakes in hell.” Waffle versus pancake issues aside, when a line like that actually lands you know you’re watching a good comedy.
It should be noted that the film’s 3D falls squarely into the “stupid jokes that work” category. The movie easily holds the record for random objects thrown at the screen in slow motion. It’s almost like screenwriters Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg sat down with director Todd Strauss-Schulson after being told they had to make a 3D movie and decided if the studio wanted 3D they were going to get 3-effing-D. Eventually the flying at the screen gag wears off, but its still fun to watch whatever they’re hurling at you protrude out from the screen. Well, except for one, let’s say, more phallic case.
All this being said, AVHKC doesn’t feel like a comedy classic or even a cult fave. The pacing throughout the film is off, and despite some humorous bits from a comedic tour de force of a supporting cast the scenes without the two friends are pretty lame. While most of the dumb humor works other parts don’t. The aforementioned coked up baby is humorous to start as a small gag, but unfortunately becomes a bigger joke that never hits the funny bone.
Despite the pacing, a few scenes that aren’t as funny as the filmmakers think they are and the feeling that the movie was ten minutes too short, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas is a fine return to form for the duo. I’m not really sure how much longer they can stretch their adventures out as the two grow older, but since they somehow managed to turn a stoner comedy into a film about Christmas, adulthood and friendship I wouldn’t be surprised if they came back with another one about parenting. Considering that all three films in the series have at the very least been funny movies I’d sign up.
Jenika Katz – I went into this movie expecting a decent pot comedy with over-the-top 3D, and I got all that and more. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen any of the Harold and Kumar movies, and since it’s been a few years for the titular friends as well, it seemed to work perfectly. If you’re in the mood for crass jokes, drug use, and titties, you won’t be disappointed, but the movie still manages to be surprisingly heartwarming. Neil Patrick Harris certainly doesn’t disappoint, and has one of the most terrifying scenes I’ve watched in a long time. It’s well worth seeing in theaters, especially with the ridiculous 3D, but I’d wait until a little closer to Christmas if you can. 79 – Good
Alex Katz – Danny Trejo splooges on a Christmas tree. Don’t be an asshole about this. 75- Good