Mark Reviews Movies

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas


1 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson

Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Amir Blumenfeld, Tom Lennon, Paula Garces, Danny Trejo, Danneel Harris, Elias Koteas, Neil Patrick Harris

MPAA Rating: R (for strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence)

Running Time: 1:30

Release Date: 11/4/11

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Review by Mark Dujsik | November 3, 2011

The phrasing of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas strikes me. It's the use of "Harold & Kumar" as an adjective, and after the first two movies starring the eponymous stoners, there is something to the wording. The names bring to mind adventures in a familiar, everyday world that transforms into an insane one, whether it be an encounter with a cheetah in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle or a stop at a Texas ranch in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (By that point in the movie, the idea of a regular world had gone out the window) where the then President of the United States reveals he enjoys marijuana almost as much as the heroes. The most surprising thing about the third movie, set in New York City at Christmastime, is how ordinary and inoffensive it is.

Don't get me wrong; A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas sticks plenty of taboos in our face that are sure to offend a certain percentage of the population, namely a baby that graduates from a contact high to a full-on dose of cocaine and ecstasy, a blasphemous trip to Heaven, and other displays of debauchery. It's all surprisingly quaint, mostly due to the fact that the screenplay by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (the pair responsible for the scripts of the previous movies) has the setups to the jokes but can never quite reach the punch lines.

It has been years since Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have seen each other (For shame!). Harold now works on Wall Street, where he can see a group of protestors objecting to financial malfeasance (judicious timing, that). Since this is in 3-D, Hurwitz and Schlossberg mildly poke the gimmick ("Hasn't 3-D jumped the shark," Harold wonders), while director Todd Strauss-Schulson takes full advantage of such gimmickry as eggs and their yolks flying at the camera in slow motion as Harold attempts to escape the protestors' wrath. Lots of things fly at the camera here.

Harold is married to his old crush Maria (Paul Garces), and the two are trying to have a baby. He's even given up smoking marijuana (Scandalous!). Maria's father (Danny Trejo), who does not trust his new son-in-law, is coming for the holiday with the rest of Maria's family, and before they arrive, she wants to give conception one last try. Sure enough, dad arrives with plenty of time for the two to stop, get themselves dressed and composed, and open the door with dad none the wiser. There surely should be a joke somewhere in here, no matter how obvious it might be.

Kumar, meanwhile, has upped his slacker quotient (Impossible!). Stopped in his tracks to becoming a doctor due to a failed drug test, he sits around his apartment, smoking weed (Smoke wafts toward the camera, too) and watching television, occasionally getting a visit from his new friend Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld). His now ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Harris) arrives with unexpected news, just as his high is kicking in: She's pregnant. Kumar is too busy laughing at the TV to discuss the issue, and Vanessa tosses out an idea that will eventually become the linchpin of the characters' development: It's time for him to grow up.

Harold and Kumar are brought together by a mysterious package left at Kumar's doorstep for his former friend and roommate. After the giant, seemingly magical joint within boomerangs back into the house and burns down Maria's father's prized Christmas tree, the two eventually team up to find a replacement before dad returns from a Christmas Eve outing with his family.

The script is once again an episodic affair. Harold, Kumar, Adrian, and Harold's friend Todd (Tom Lennon)—with baby in tow—arrive at a party where Adrian has arranged to take the virginity of a young girl (Jordan Hinson). No one seems concerned with the fact that everyone at the party appears underage (bringing up an even more important question about Adrian's plan), and instead we're treated to a beer pong match with a ping-pong ball flying—you guessed it—at the camera. The girl's father is a Ukrainian mobster named Sergei Katsov (Elias Koteas). Soon enough, his goons are after the duo, but not before bullets and cocaine rain down.

A random journey through a world of clay animation, a violent encounter with Santa (Richard Riehle) that results in the jolly old man obtaining a gashing head wound, and a musical stage show are in store for Harold and Kumar, but the movie imagines that these situations alone are enough to constitute a joke. Even the series staple of a demented version of Neil Patrick Harris (assuring the boys that he only says he's gay to get women), crossing the thin line between hedonistic and creepy in this installment, seems inserted for the sole reason of custom. A feeling of routine is the last thing this series needs, but it's the only thing A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas offers.

Copyright © 2011 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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