Supplanting Cheech & Chong movies as this generation’s stoner franchise, I believed the second Harold & Kumar film would be the last (especially with star Kal Penn moving from acting to the The White House). Back with their Christmas-themed 3D outing, Harold and Kumar are up to their same old tricks with a bag full of gross and naked new treats. It’s everything the kids want to see, just not me.
It has been X number of years since the tripped-out duo’s last adventure and things have changed. Harold is a big shot executive working the Manhattan grind and living in a luxurious split-level home. Kumar, however, is an even bigger deadbeat than before. His weed habit is out of control, as are his living conditions. Aside from his perfectly groomed beard and empty White Castle bags, he has nothing. When a package arrives at this doorstep addressed to Harold, Kumar treks to the ‘burbs and, in classic Kumar fashion, ruins everything for Harold. With the task of replacing a very special Christmas tree, Harold and Kumar set off of another night of misadventure.
You could safely say that if you enjoyed the first two over-the-top Harold & Kumar adventures, you will enjoy this third installment. While I surprisingly deem the first two films acceptable, most of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is a drudge of badly rehashed jokes and innuendos. Neil Patrick Harris is still a hoot as his oversexed, misogynist alter ego, but you know what you are going to get the minute he pops on screen. New cast addition Danny Trejo and a cameo from RZA (the best work I’ve seen him do to date) inject a few fresh chuckles, though they are overpowered by the series’ general focus.
Trying to make the best of the abhorring 3D phenomena, the first half is packed to the brim with attempts to awe the audience. If you enjoy having smoke, eggs, and glass feel like they’re in your face, you’ve found your movie. Otherwise, the novelty wears off so fast that the second half of the film is practically void of the technology. Next to porous attempts to mock the actors’ work between the films (Penn in the White House, Cho in Star Trek) too much effort seemed to be spent pointing out that they are indeed in a 3D movie.
There’s no reason to dig deeply into a Harold & Kumar film. Making a stoner Christmas special is pretty much the entire motivation behind the endeavor. Everyone knows heading in if they will enjoy it or not. Fans of the series will get exactly when they expect; nothing more really needs to be said.
Matthew Schuchman is the founder and film critic of Movie Reviews From Gene Shalit’s Moustache (http://shalitsstache.com). Also the contributing film writer for IPaintMyMind (http://ipaintmymind.org), Schuchman has no issue tearing apart and analyzing any film, even children’s movies.