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Nov082011

'A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas' review - Absurdly stupid, but hella fun

I’ve always had a soft spot for Harold and Kumar. There’s something refreshingly honest in their shenanigans, a proud lack of theatrical ambition that eases moviegoers slowly, tenderly, into the middle of unvarnished lunacy. The cheetah ride in the original film has no right occupying space in my mind as something cinematically classic, nor does the smoking session with George W. Bush that occurred in the second film. These scenes, while highly creative, are absurdly stupid (or stupidly absurd). But they work well because the franchise has never pretended otherwise.

Nor does it in this third, Christmas-themed film, which is considerably smaller in scope than Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008), but far funnier. The plot: years after their last adventure together, Harold and Kumar are estranged and living very different lives. Harold has found success on Wall Street, and lives comfortably in a large house with his wife, Maria. He’s been domesticated—no more weed—and is trying his damndest to win the approval of Maria’s dad (played by Danny Trejo—seriously). The father-in-law likes Christmas trees—so much so that he throws away Harold’s artificial one and replaces it with a tree that he lovingly grew himself over a period of 12 years. In an attempt to prove himself, Harold offers to decorate it while the family goes to midnight mass. This is what we call “disaster waiting to happen.”

Kumar, for his part, hasn’t changed much—he’s just broken up with Vanessa, and his life consists mainly of getting stoned alone in the apartment he once shared with Harold. Smiling and giggly though he may be, his life isn’t going so well. When a mysterious package addressed to Harold arrives at the door, he decides to deliver it to his old friend in person. Naturally, a marijuana-related mishap sets the almighty Christmas tree on fire, leaving our heroes only a couple of precious hours to find a replacement.

Their adventure follows the same “one crazy night” trope as the original—more kaleidoscopic than epic. They flip their car, dodge bullets from Ukranian mobsters, drink egg-nog spiked with hallucinogens, and shoot Santa Claus in the face with a shotgun. And if you were upset at the apparent death of Neil Patrick Harris in Guantanamo Bay, his sudden reappearance as the lead in a Broadway-style Christmas stage show will warm your heart. Few jokes in the film fall flat, although a sub-plot involving Harold and Kumar’s substitute friends and a baby who keeps ingesting street drugs gets tired after a while.

The movie is being presented in both the second and third dimensions, and though I loathe the ever-growing prevalence of 3D movies, I would absolutely recommend that you pay the premium and tolerate those damn glasses should you decide to see it. Although rookie director Todd Strauss-Schulson obnoxiously mocks 3D technology, he simultaneously employs it with creativity and enthusiasm—laying a rich, visual feast on those in the audience who are “not low.” The 3D version throws eggs at you, along with blasts of confetti, smoke rings, and even Kumar’s giant Claymation dong.

Although it probably couldn’t hurt, you need not be stoned to appreciate the kind of absurd slapstick on offer here. And if you have a taste for the kind of good-natured racism and toilet humour that made the original film a stoner classic, you couldn’t possibly walk away from A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas disappointed.

At one point in the film, the great NPH tells our heroes, “See you in the fourth!”

I, for one, can’t wait.

Rating:  (Good)

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