A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas
Release Date: November 4, 2011
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Writers: Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg
Stars: Kal Penn, John Cho and Neil Patrick Harris
MPAA Rating: R
If you only see one ridiculous stoner 3D Christmas movie this holiday season, you should definitely make it A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.
It’s a completely ridiculous and silly movie, but it’s a movie that knows what it is and knows what its audience wants. It’s juvenile and crass, but also quite funny. If the idea of seeing a baby accidentally get high or a Christmas tree inadvertently set on fire by a comically over-sized joint, then this is definitely the film for you.
The setup of the first Harold and Kumar movie was quite simple. Our heroes got really stoned and simply wanted to go to White Castle to enjoy a nice snack. But as they set out on their journey, a series of strange and unfortunate circumstances distracted them from their mission. It was an odd formula, but it worked.
While the 2008 sequel, Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, struggled a bit to recapture the fun and the humor of the first film, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas seems to have rediscovered that winning formula. It’s as hilarious and bizarre as the original film without feeling like a complete retread.
At the beginning of this film, things have changed quite a bit for our protagonists. Harold Lee (John Cho) is now a successful Wall Street banker and a family man living in the suburbs and hanging out with his milquetoast neighbor Todd (Tom Lennon). While things are going well with Harold and his gorgeous Hispanic wife Maria (Paula Garcés), her scary, seemingly unstable father (Danny Trejo) is not too impressed with his Asian son-in-law. When he and the rest of Maria’s family come to visit for Christmas, Harold is determined to win him over.
Living a successful, mundane adult life, Harold doesn’t really have time for his old friend Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) anymore. Kumar is still living the same immature life he had going in 2004. He’s flunked out of medical school after failing a drug test and now spends his days smoking weed in his apartment and hanging out with his younger neighbor Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld), who is filling the void Harold left.
When a mysterious package shows up on Kumar’s doorstep addressed to Harold, he sets out to reconnect with his best friend. It doesn’t take long for things to get out of control once the band is back together. Within five minutes, Kumar accidentally sets Harold’s father-in-law’s prized Christmas tree on fire. They only have a few hours to replace it before Maria and her family get back to the house, so they set out on another mission which, predictably, does not go as planned.
Part of the reason the film works is because of a strong supporting cast. John Cho and Kal Penn are both solid, but they need funny people around them to help sell the ridiculousness. Tom Lennon is great as Harold’s uptight, boring new friend, as is the relatively unknown Amir Blumenfeld (who got his start on the College Humor website) as Kumar’s surrogate Harold. Patton Oswalt makes a cameo as a Mall Santa/drug dealer and the incredibly underrated Elias Koteas shows up as the ruthless mafioso Sergei Katsov.
And, of course, Neil Patrick Harris returns to play “himself.” In 2004 when the original Harold and Kumar film came out, NPH’s career resurgence hadn’t yet begun. But now, thanks to How I Met Your Mother and a few memorable stints on Broadway, Harris is a big star. The writers in this film have found an amusing way to incorporate Harris’ real life persona with his on-screen counterpart.
Harold and Kumar are reunited with him at a rehearsal for a Broadway Christmas show and they quickly discovered that while he’s become America’s darling, he’s still the same old Neil. He’s not really gay, it turns out, he’s just doing it to help his career along and to pick up unsuspecting chicks. And while America may see him as sweet and wholesome, Neil is secretly doing crack in his dressing room. One of the funniest scenes in the film is Harris’ explanation of why he’s still alive after being shot twice in the back outside of a whorehouse in Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay.
Besides NPH, my other favorite supporting actor in the film is an adorable little robot named Wafflebot. In the film, he’s the hottest Christmas toy this season and, as the name suggests, he’s a robot that makes waffles. Everything about Wafflebot is comedy gold, including the over-the-top commercial advertising him. I really wish Wafflebot actually existed.
The 3D in the film is quite amusing as well. Long before Avatar came along and started this modern 3D resurgence, the technology was often used as a cheap and silly gimmick. While I’m not a big fan of 3D, I enjoyed the fact that they embraced the silliness of it. Plenty of objects – including eggs, confetti and, yes, even pot smoke – all come right towards your face. It’s reminiscent of the cheesy old Three Stooges 3D movies, which I appreciate.
So while it still seems early in the year to me to be releasing a Christmas movie, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas is a fun little film to help you get into the holiday season. Seeing Danny Trejo in a ridiculous Christmas sweater alone is worth the price of admission.
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his reviews, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org.