Everyone loves racist jokes. Everyone loves pot jokes. Everyone loves racist pot jokes (it’s true don’t deny it). These three facts may be an explanation behind the strangely successful Harold & Kumar franchise, which is now on its third film. The other strange thing about the franchise is that it’s one of the only, if not the only successful franchise led without a Caucasian character in a lead role. I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting, but that’s really not important.
In A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, six years have passed since the previous sequel, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantonomo Bay. On an unrelated note, considering that both Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle and Escape From Guantanomo Bay take place during the same week, and the first Harold & Kumar came out in 2004, the whole 6 years passing thing is extremely close to being accurate as far as the time-lapse. Not very important, but I felt like sharing, now back to the review.
Harold (John Cho) has since married his dream girl Maria (Paula Garcés – Below), who now wants to have a child. Kumar (Kal Penn), who was dumped by his girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Ackles), now lives alone spending his days getting high and talking to his annoying neighbor, Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld, in what should be his breakout role).
Christmas Eve rolls around, and this is where the fun begins. Harold’s very scary and very Mexican in-laws are in town for the weekend, led by their patriarch, Mr. Perez (Danny Trejo), bringing with him an extremely important and cherished tree that he’s been growing for eight years for this specific Christmas. Harold just wants to show to him that he’s a responsible husband and won’t ruin Christmas.
On Kumar’s side of things, with nothing to do, he decides to go out with Adrian, but hours before doing so, Vanessa drops by to give Kumar a little news; she’s pregnant. On top of all that (yes, there’s more), a package arrives for Harold who hasn’t lived in that apartment for almost five years. With all this on his mind, Kumar and Adrian head to Harold’s house to drop off the package and get out of their as soon as they can, but of course, we know the formula by know, that’s not going to happen.
Basically, to shorten the sequence, Kumar leaves the package on the front stoop and tries to get out clean, he ends up slipping on ice, Harold hears it, comes out, greets him, and invites him in for coffee. Kumar reluctantly agrees only to see that Harold’s new house is, and I quote, “not s**ty.” Harold and Kumar, after their awkward introductions, finally get around to opening the mysterious package, only to find a ridiculously large joint with the words “I killed Bob Marley” written on the side of it (I’m only kidding about that last part). Kumar immediately begins smoking the joint, and Harold forces him to throw it out. The joint, accompanied by some slick movie magic, is thrown out of the window, to only boomerang back into another open window, placing itself neatly on the cherished tree, thus lighting it on fire. Here’s where the adventure begins.
I won’t explain all the things that happen next, but I can say one thing; it’s funny as hell. The Harold & Kumar films, as mindless and raunchy as they may seem, are for the most part expertly plotted, smartly written, and extremely funny films, this being no exception.
The only thing that I thought was more or less distracting was the overall change in style. I can’t quite put my finger on everything that was different, but it’s like watching a sequel or a remake to your favorite movie. It’s probably good, but it just isn’t the same. Another distracting element was the almost constant use of slow-motion and 3D. Unfortunately, I was forced to see the film in 2D, as well as sober, so I probably only got about 1/10th of the effects that every stoner with a pair of 3D glasses did.
But for all the stylistic changes, the addition of new and hilarious characters, including Thomas Lennon as Todd, a naïve father who inadvertently involves him and his even funnier baby girl Ava in Harold and Kumar’s misadventures, as well as the return of all the old characters, notably NPH (whose cameo may be his best yet) and Rosenberg and Goldstein (whose cameo scene will have fans of the original in stitches), make this 3rd outing better than it has any right to be. Additionally, the use of meta-filmmaking makes for some even better laughs than almost any joke in the film. The real genius of this 3rd Harold & Kumar film, is that, it will most likely please fans of the original, but it also makes room for millions of new fans who have not yet been introduced to the antics of this lovable stoner duo.