Movie review: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

I honestly think your enjoyment of “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” boils down to this: does the notion of a 4-year-old getting high off weed, coke and ecstasy sound funny or reprehensible?

If it’s the former, this is flick for you. If it’s the latter, I’m sure “Puss in Boots” is playing somewhere nearby.

Obviously, the “Harold & Kumar” trilogy owes a large debt to the “Cheech & Chong” flicks, and here, they return to the gleeful pot-smoking antics that were missing from the disjointed second flick, “Escape from Guantanamo Bay.”

The plot is merely a perfunctory excuse to get our boys in increasingly ridiculous situations, this time with the added bonus of 3-D presentation.

Three years after their last adventure, Harold (John Cho) has moved on with his wife, trading joints for sconces and a boring Wall Street job. Kumar (Kal Penn), on the other hand, is still living in a weed-addled haze, his friendship with Harold shot thanks to his irresponsibility. 

Harold is stressed because his wife’s family is coming to visit for the holidays, and her grumpy dad (Danny Trejo) is somewhat obsessed with the perfect tree (due to a rather unfortunate incident which we see in flashback), which Kumar conveniently burns down when dropping off a mysterious package that landed on his doorstep.

This kicks off an all-night odyssey that finds the pair on the lam from Russian mobsters, acquiring a Wafflebot, meeting up with old friends at the White Castle, accidentally shooting Santa Claus and, of course, hanging out with sexual deviant Neil Patrick Harris – all filmed in surprisingly effective and charmingly cheesy 3-D.

It’s amazing how NPH subverting his image has become the hallmark of these films, even though you know its coming and even though he does the same thing every week on TV. Yet, watching NPH get a handjob in heaven is still hilarious.

That’s just one example of the very un-PC humor on display in the film, which leaves no stone unturned in its attempts to offend. That kind of gleeful, good-natured pushing of the envelope fits well here, and is frankly refreshing, given that H & K are arguably the two highest profile minorities in today’s cinema.

Cho and Penn know these are their signature roles, and continue to have fun with them even though at some level, they understand they are above such material. There are some winking nods to Penn’s stint as a White House aide and to the boys’ increasing age, but for the most part, the film is comfort food for “H&K” fans.

I’m not sure how much longer the folks behind “Harold & Kumar” can make a one-joke premise last (although they are pitching an animated series) but I do hope Hollywood realizes what Cho and Penn – and to that extent, all minority actors – can bring to the table, instead of pigeonholing them into typical roles.

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~ by Elliott on November 16, 2011.

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