A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (Warner Bros. Pictures, R)

I like both of these guys so much that I can’t even be sure that I’m fairly judging the movie.

 

 

I like Christmas, but I also like movies that subvert traditional ideas of what the holiday season is all about. If you have to release a Christmas movie in the first week of November, it might as well be one that has absolutely no respect for the sanctity of Christmas. A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas is certainly that film. In case anyone was wondering, this is not a heartwarming family film. It is a filthy, filthy comedy, which earns its R rating with all manner of horrible, disgusting things, all thrown at the audience in state-of-the-art 3D.

The film is set years after the events of Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, and our heroes have grown estranged from each other. Harold is a successful businessman who is married and living in an extravagant new house; Kumar is still a stoned slacker who has recently broken up with his girlfriend. She visits him early in the movie to reveal that she is pregnant with his child. Harold is hosting his wife’s very large family for Christmas and is desperately trying to please her intimidating father, played by the always enjoyable Danny Trejo. Through a series of wacky incidents, Kumar ends up at Harold’s house, burning down Trejo’s beloved Christmas tree, and the duo has a few hours to find a replacement.

This film returns to the formula of the original, wherein the characters have one specific goal and continuously end up sidetracked by stranger and stranger misadventures. Admittedly, the idea of having to find a Christmas tree isn’t as inherently amusing as having to find a White Castle, but it’s all about the journey, not the destination. This journey involves gangsters, a drugged baby, claymation, Santa Claus, and, of course, an encounter with Neil Patrick Harris, who has his finest appearance of the series here. Most comedies these days follow the Judd Apatow model of being character- and dialogue-driven stories that tend to be played for realism. The Harold and Kumar movies have never been afraid to step well over the line between realism and fantasy, and I will always love them for that.

As I’m sure you know, if only from the title, this film is presented in 3D. Many people have grown quickly tired of this technology. I certainly have, but I am still a supporter of gimmicky 3D. When people praise “immersive” 3D, they are talking about movies which end up looking like darker 2D movies. There is no point in making a 3D movie if you are not constantly throwing things at the audience, which this film does. It seems like every couple of seconds, we are bombarded by smoke, flying eggs, ping pong balls, etc., all taking advantage of the third dimension. I like the gimmick, and when a movie fully embraces it like this one does, I have a good time with it.

The core of these movies is the relationship between Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn). They play great off of each other, and we want to see them together. Penn’s Kumar is particularly impressive. He is a bumbling oaf who legitimately causes a lot of problems for his friend, but we never hate him. I like both of these guys so much that I can’t even be sure that I’m fairly judging the movie. They make me laugh. This one isn’t as consistently funny as the first (it’s about on par with the second one), but even when I’m not laughing, I enjoy spending time with these characters. They also manage to bring some level of heart to the proceedings. The two previous films felt strangely smart, in addition to being funny. This one feels less intelligent, but by the time the two leads had to finally come to terms with their situations and take responsibility, I actually cared. | Sean Lass

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