A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
Directed by: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Kal Penn, John Cho
Harold and Kumar should have quit while they were ahead.
The original Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, while not quite worthy of the “classic” stamp, was a downright hilarious tale of two stoner-buddies’ epic journey to mini-hamburger heaven, while Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the second installment, was markedly less inspired but still good for a few cheap laughs.
Unfortunately, our culture continues to demand third helpings of every marginal film franchise in existence, so movie-goers worldwide must endure mind-numbing drivel to the tune of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.
The title says it all. Forcing the cultural hot button of the 3D-movie onto a B-comedy insults the innovation of the former and piles a layer of superfluous cheese on the latter. A new Harold & Kumar movie might have been a welcome addition to the fall film lineup, but prematurely jamming it into the Christmas-movie mould adds “unseasonal” to H&K 3’s heap of dubious accolades. Needless to say, my expectations entering the theatre weren’t too high, though the possibility of a pleasant surprise still lingered. No such luck.
The premise is simple: a few years after the events of the previous film, the movie finds Harold Lee a successful, married businessman, desperate for the approval of his father-in-law, and Kumar Patel still a shiftless idler whose marijuana consumption shows no signs of slowing down. A mysterious package reunites the separated duo, and when Kumar unwittingly torches Harold’s father-in-law’s perfect Christmas tree, the old friends are forced to work together to procure a new one, which, for notorious stoner-slackers Harold and Kumar, proves no easy task.
Laughs, which should abound along such plotlines, were few and far between. Lowlights include a small typecast role for Amir Blumenfeld, who is nearly impossible to separate from his character on CollegeHumor’s Jake and Amir, numerous shameless meta-references, an unnecessary claymation segment, and a short-lived tangent in which Santa Claus takes a shotgun bullet to the face.
As expected, the film’s saving grace was the Harold and Kumar universe’s fictionalized version of Neil Patrick Harris, who reprises his role from the first two films and delivers an outrageous Christmas-themed musical number as only NPH can.
If your inner adolescent tells you that the Harold & Kumar 3 box must be ticked off on your to-see list, treat its viewing as a shout-out to the Ghost of Comedy Past and nothing more, and you won’t be disappointed. Expect comedic gold, and you will. As NPH bows out of his refreshingly funny segment, he takes a hammer to the next wall in proclaiming, “See you in the fourth one!”
One can only hope the franchise cuts its losses before then, allowing its fans to remember a glorious time when sophomoric penis-and-boob jokes still made us laugh.