Movie Review: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

Mike Finkelstein was in the holiday spirit and wanted to visit some old friends. He was also in the mood for White Castle. He figured he’d put both together, and go see a little ridiculous movie about those guys who had the munchies so many years ago. (Who knew Santa delivered joints?!) Here is his review of “A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.”

Mike Finkelstein was in the holiday spirit and wanted to visit some old friends.  He was also in the mood for White Castle.  He figured he’d put both together, and go see a little ridiculous movie about those guys who had the munchies so many years ago.  (Who knew Santa delivered joints?!)  Here is his review of “A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.”

PLOT: After years of not talking and growing apart, old friends Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are brought back together on Christmas Eve, all due to a mysterious package for Harold and shows up on Kumar’s doorstep.  But when the two accidentally burn down Maria’s Christmas-obsessed father’s tree, the two spend the night trying to find a replacement before he comes home from Midnight Mass.  Mobsters, drugged up babies, waffle-bpts, ridiculous 3D, claymation, racism, and NPH ensues.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  Harold and Kumar are two names that have found their way right up there with Cheech and Chong in the realm of stoner comedies.  Granted, ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY may not have been the greatest sequel on the planet (can you say dated jokes, much?), but GO TO WHITE CASTLE still stands as one of the greatest road trip buddy comedies of the last decade.  So the real question is…would a third Christmas-themed installment filled with 3D gimmicks and featuring our friends all grown up hit the same classic level of part one, or fall short, somewhere near the disaster level of part two?

Surprisingly enough, it all kind of works…

It’s been years since Harold and Kumar have spoken.  Harold (John Cho), now a successful broker on Wall Street and happily married to Maria, is busy spending Christmas Eve trying to impress Maria’s mean, Christmas-obsessed, Korean-hating father.  Kumar (Kal Penn), on the other hand, is still getting high in the same apartment after Vanessa broke up with him and he got kicked out of med school.  When a mystery package arrives for Harold at his old address, Kumar decides to deliver the package.  Turns out that package contains a massive blunt that accidentally burns down Harold’s father-in-law’s prized Christmas tree.  Oops.

And that, my friends, is the motivation for the rest of the night.  Something as simple as finding the perfect replacement Christmas tree turns into a night filled with gangsters, car crashes, stoned toddlers, waffle-bots, claymation, ‘gangstas’, A CHRISTMAS STORY, racial stereotypes, a pothead Santa, and Neil Patrick Harris.  Yes, it gets carried away and ridiculous and almost seems like the writers were stoned themselves, thinking “what else can they do on Christmas?!”, but if you’re seeing a HAROLD AND KUMAR movie, are you expecting anything less (or more, depending on your viewpoint)?  They’re going to make fun of every race.  They’re going to insult and offend and bash you over the head with stupidity.  Just learn to enjoy the love-struck waffle-bot and move on!

The heart of the story comes from John Cho and Kal Penn.  You’re so married to the image of these two as best friends, that you almost feel like they’re cheating on each other with their new, completely inadequate BFF’s.  The chemistry and sarcasm is still there, with a beer pong scene being my personal favorite.  I’m not going to go as far as to say it was hitting philosophical notes of nostalgically remembering youth (I don’t think the script is that smart), but it does hint at better, less mature, carefree times, and the spirit of the stoner youths they once were is still there.

While the heart of the story comes from the title characters, the ‘what the F***’ moments are absolutely owned by Neil Patrick Harris.  It still amazes me that his career was basically revived tenfold by his cameo in the first film, but there’s no doubt why.  The man is one of the most talented, nicest gay men in Hollywood, and here, he’s a cocaine addicted, Jesus-annoying asshole version of himself.  Even husband David Burtka has a hysterical cameo as a straight, drug dealing version of himself.  The scene basically steals the movie, and gives the couple’s twins something to really talk about when they get older…

Again, A VERY HAROLD AND KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS isn’t the greatest comedy you’ll see all year.  Many jokes do fall flat, and while it is basically there to make fun of itself, about 95% of the 3D is absolutely unnecessary, really just making me bitter for having spent an extra five bucks on it.  But here’s the thing…I still love these idiot characters.  Think about it: one little trip to White Castle turned ‘that Asian guy from AMERICAN PIE’ into John Cho, ‘that Indian guy from VAN WILDER’ into Kal Penn, and Doogie Howser into the triple threat that is NPH.  If you aren’t fully invested, then wait for a good rental, but if you’re a fan of the first two films, odds are you’ll have a great time with this one (munchies or not).  And, heck, it may even get you into the Christmas spirit.  (Just try to take that $5 for 3D and throw it in a Salvation Army basket instead.)

GRADE: B

Mike’s LIKES:

1) HAROLD AND KUMAR: Two household names at this point, it’s like revising two good old friends.

2) NPH AND DAVID Burtka: Neil Patrick Harris again reigns supreme in the antichrist version of himself.  I don’t want to give anything else away, but how this man could get away with what he does is unbelievable.  David Burtka is also amazing as the twisted, married version of himself.  Good to know he could play along with his husband a bit.

3) SHOOTING SANTA IN THE FACE: I don’t think we’ll ever get to see this on camera again.  It was just so sudden and random that I couldn’t stop laughing.

4) WAFFLE BOT: I would buy this in a second if I knew I could have fresh, homemade waffles all day, every day.  I’d just be a bit afraid with the bot getting obsessed with me…

5) THE JEWS/WHITE CASTLE CAMEO: Oh, you old, ridiculous side characters.  We haven’t forgotten you, either!

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) 3D: Yes, I know they were making fun of the whole 3D fad, but I thought they’d at least put it to a bit of better campy use, and make it worth our money.  Instead, I felt just as cheated as I would have seeing any other movie in the format.  Not cool, guys.

3) CLAYMATION: Very creative, but fell kind of flat.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) One of the lies Adrian tells the virgin is that Kumar works at the White House. Kal Penn actually does work at the White House and took time off to make this movie.

2) The third Harold and Kumar movie was supposed to be called “Harold and Kumar and the Legend of Eazy-e’s Stash”.  Because getting the rights to Easy-e’s estate were so hard, things quickly fell apart, and a Christmas movie was the result.

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