Monday, November 7, 2011

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

It's been a few years since we've last seen Harold and Kumar, the lovable, pot-smoking modern day Cheech and Chong, on the big screen. This third installment in the series isn't quite as funny as its predecessors; it sacrifices a few laughs for some legitimately heartfelt character moments that shouldn't disappoint fans of the franchise.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Starring: John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris

Six years after their last adventure, Harold (John Cho) lives in a big house, has a great job, and is happily married to his dream girl Maria (Paula Garces). Kumar (Kal Penn) still lives in a filthy apartment, buys weed from department store Santas, and constantly looks to get high. Maria's Christmas-obsessed father (Danny Trejo) brings a special Christmas tree to Harold's house, and leaves Harold in charge of decorating it while the rest of the family goes to midnight mass. When a mysterious package intended for Harold arrives on Kumar's door, he delivers it and accidentally burns down the tree in the process, paving the way for the rest of the film as the duo reunite for another "one crazy night" adventure to obtain a new tree in time.

For a movie so closely associated with the stoner genre, the leads actually spend very little time smoking in this movie. For the druggies in the audience who came to see 3D under the influence, the filmmakers decided to bring in some supporting characters to help out in that department. Thomas Lennon, who plays Harold's uptight best friend, gets involved in the proceedings and brings along his baby daughter, who, over the course of the film, ends up taking multiple drugs and comically exhibiting their effects. Like I said - this one isn't as funny as the first two movies. Kumar's also got a friend, a younger kid who takes everyone to a party so - in a classic road trip subplot - he can meet (and have sex with, naturally) a girl he met online. As you'd expect, the whole thing gets out of control really quickly, and our heroes move forward to accomplish their goal.

Surprisingly, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is less about getting high and making holiday jokes than about friendship, growing up, and taking responsibility for your actions. Harold and Kumar have serious conversations and address real topics amid their ridiculous antics, discussing what causes friends to drift apart and many other things. Then Harold shoots the real Santa Claus in the face with a shotgun, and everyone remembers what movie we're actually watching here. The drama is pretty heartwarming if you're familiar with the history of what these guys have been through, and the addition of a toy called the Wafflebot alternately provides "aww" and "aw, sh*t!" moments.

And don't you worry - NPH is back with a fantastic musical number and a hilarious, irreverent explanation of how he's still alive after the events of the last movie. The writers even bring his personal life into things this time, suggesting that he's faking being gay with his public persona in order to lure women into a false sense of security so he can seduce them.

If your holiday list consists of seeing cocaine rain from the sky in a slow motion sequence while "White Christmas" plays in the background, you can check it (twice). A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is both naughty and nice: a crazy Christmas film and a heartfelt installment in this series, all tied up with the nice bow of gimmick 3D. Until next time...

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