It’s that time of year when family films are released by the dozens in order to pass the word of the joys of the Christmas season. Many of these films are barely above palatable for any adult accompanying younger viewers while other movies (if the heart strings are plucked in the right combination) become holiday classics. However few films address this time of year in a way that excludes the population who are age appropriate to be bounced on Santa’s knee, but that is the crux of ‘A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas’. Sure there is Santa, decorated trees, and the essence of Xmas yet none of the antics should be viewed by kids under the age of theater consent. Primarily because Santa gets bloodied, too many trees meet unfortunate ends, and the essence of Christmas can simply be found in a popular substance that is rolled up, smoked, and shared.
The first ‘Harold and Kumar’ film documented the life experiences of the friends in 2004’s ‘Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle’. At the time the characters were in college and were jonesing for a meal that satisfied their munchies ways. The second 2008 film in the series, ‘Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay’ takes place right after the boys come home from their trip to White Castle. Harold (John Cho) has a crush on a neighbor who has just flown off to Amsterdam which Kumar (Kal Penn) takes as a sign that the two of them must give chase. Fear not, despite the ‘Guantanamo Bay’ in the title all ends well.
In ‘Christmas’ it has been a few years since the best friends have even seen each other. Harold has done well for himself on Wall Street while Kumar is still living in the apartment they once shared surrounded by the White Castle boxes. His girlfriend he had since his ‘Guantanamo Bay’ days has moved out due to his persistence to honor a certain controlled substance above everything else, including his medical career. This doesn’t mean that Harold, despite his apparent success, doesn’t have his share of problems. He and his wife are trying to get pregnant and her side of the family are invading their overly holiday decorated home for Christmas. His father-in-law (Danny Trejo) despises him and blames a Korean gang for murdering his mother as she was bringing the family’s first Christmas tree in America home when he was just a mere lad (with a giant ominous looking beard). The two reunite when a package is delivered to Kumar’s door addressed to Harold. Awkwardly Kumar slowly realizes that Harold plans on having a huge holiday party to which he has not been invited. Harold opens the box to find a big fat something that looks much like an individually rolled cigarette. He informs Kumar that he no longer partakes in such activities further demonstrating how the friends have grown apart. Just when they are about to walk out of each other’s lives forever fate intervenes and a certain odd cigarette manages to burn down the tree that Harold’s father-in-law painstakingly grew and expects to be decorated perfectly when the family returns from midnight mass.
No ‘Harold and Kumar’ film would be complete without the appearance of Patrick Neal Harris. Despite being shot and presumably murdered in ‘Guantanamo’ he has risen from the grave and is now comfortable living life as a gay man (David Burtka PNH’s real fiancée plays his fiancée in the movie – they also share a long screen kiss) but in all might just be a ruse. Several characters from past films have cameos in this latest offering along with an introduction of a certain mechanical device that makes the world’s best waffles. BTW, if you don’t love Wafflebot then you don’t have a heart.
The guy selling the tickets at the AMC theater at BarryWoods said that the 3D effects were some of the best and he wasn’t kidding (good call anonymous ticket guy!). At the beginning of the film there is an egg fight which offers a good demonstration as to why 3D was invented. There are several scenes where the 3D effects mimic the reaching and ducking responses from the audience much like when the films did when the technology was first introduced. At some points I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Vincent Price popping up somewhere talking about ‘The Tingler’.
I thought the movie was hilarious, but I know that this sort of humor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t necessarily think you have to be a stoner to enjoy the film, but if you are uptight about marijuana than stay far away from anything ‘Harold and Kumar’. Despite the topic matter, I do think there was a sophistication to the script (Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg) that made it above the pot focused films of the past. Neither Kumar or Harold are dolts, it is just that Kumar needs to mature and Harold needs to not be so uptight. All three films do a fine job about commenting on American stereotypes while demonstrating how we really are a melting pot society. I enjoyed the nods to classic Christmas movies along with the Claymation/stop motion sequence which featured a line, “I bet you wish you weren’t high” (‘It’s a Very Jolly Day (For You to Die)’ sung by Gregtronic). I also appreciated the through away line about how if Kumar could clean up his act he could work for the white house.
Overall, I would recommend ‘A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas’. It isn’t a family film so probably isn’t showing in too many theaters still, but it is a very merry film for a date night or time with friends. However know what you are walking into before buying a ticket. There is nudity and some questionable gimmicks (such as a child accidently getting a contact high). I think this film on the same comedy level as ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’.