As I walked into the theater for A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas I was walking into my very first Harold and Kumar movie. I missed Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle back in 2004 and skipped Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay primarily because I missed the first film.
I did, however, catch five minutes of Escape from Guantanamo Bay on Comedy Central a couple of days before going to see this third film and got a mild chuckle as Neil Patrick Harris, playing himself, picked up Harold and Kumar on the side of the road and started doing mushrooms and drinking only to have to swerve his vehicle so as to avoid hitting a unicorn in the middle of the road. I laughed and changed the channel. No ill will… just... whatever...
"A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" is a New Line Cinema release, directed by Todd Strauss Schulson and is rated R for strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence. The running time is .
The cast includes John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Patton Oswalt, Thomas Lennon, Paula Garces, Danneel Harris, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Danny Trejo, Fred Melamed, RZA, Elias Koteas and Genevieve Jones.
So, with my 3D glasses in hand I strode into the theater to see if there was anything to this comedy phenomenon that has managed to churn out three films and gain something of a following over the last seven years. And I'm happy to say, given the kind of movie you should be expecting, it's actually not too bad.
Using 3D to the fullest effect including a Claymation penis and Danny Trejo's tree-trimming ejaculate (yes, you read that correctly), this is definitely an R-rated film and as you would expect from such material, it's a bit all over the place when it comes to its story. But what else can you expect from a film with this level of drug consumption? Especially when most of it is consumed by a coked out two-year-old.
The story begins as Harold (John Cho) evades Wall Street protestors on his way home from his posh job to his posh house and his hot wife (Paula Garces). Christmas Eve is just around the corner, her family is coming into town and her father (Trejo) isn't exactly Harold's biggest fan so he's hoping to impress.
On the other side of town is Kumar (Kal Penn) who, from what I can tell, doesn't have a job, has just lost his girlfriend and enjoys smoking weed. In this particular instance he's enjoying some holiday-themed marijuana with a shopping mall Santa played by Patton Oswalt. Oh, and he hasn't seen Harold for about two years, a situation that will be remedied soon enough.
Christmas Eve morning a package arrives at Kumar's apartment but it's addressed to Harold. Kumar's decision to deliver the package turns into disaster as Harold's father-in-law's prized Christmas tree is burned to a crisp setting the rest of the film in motion. Harold has only a few hours to find a replacement tree before his extended family returns from Midnight Mass and if there isn't a fully-decorated tree where it should be Christmas just may be ruined.
I don't want to spoil the story from this point forward, but let's just say there's an excellent scene at a Christmas Tree lot where RZA and Da'Vone McDonald (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) take turns playing the "angry black tree salesman," which was quite funny. There's an inspired Claymation sequence as Harold and Kumar run through town avoiding an angry snowman and when you add to that a coked up youngster, a game of beer pong, a WaffleBot, Neil Patrick Harris getting frisky and Santa getting shot in the face you've got yourself a movie. What more could you want?
Granted, it's all presented in a rather clumsy narrative, but this isn't the first film you're going to walk into concerned with story structure. As long as they get from point A to point B without too much stumbling along the way the film has pretty much accomplished what it set out to do and in those terms A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas succeeds.
Outside of RZA and McDonald's brief appearance, Neil Patrick Harris, who apparently died in the last film (yes, his resurrection is addressed) and the WaffleBot steal the show beginning with Harris' dressing room antics, followed by WaffleBot's hatred for pancakes and loyalty to Kumar as he and Harold are being chased by Ukrainian gangsters for reasons I won't get into here.
I don't know how this film compares to the first two, but we're not talking about high art here so don't worry if you've seen the previous installments or not. I laughed and enjoyed myself for what it's worth and director Todd Strauss-Schulson has certainly done his best to make the 3D worth it, and by "worth it" I mean a bunch of things pop out at you that you would otherwise tend to avoid.
If any of what I've said appeals to you then you should probably give it a shot. A lot will be lost on home video as this was definitely made with 3D in mind, but the majority of the laughs aren't dependent on the gimmicky medium so even if you do decide to wait you won't be missing out on much it will just look a little odd in 2D on your smaller television screen.