Kal Penn, John Cho, Thomas Lennon, Neil Patrick Harris
Rated: R Run Time: 90 min
The Harold and Kumar franchise is about as rude, outrageous and unrepentantly sacrilegious as mainstream American movies get, at least until Trey Parker and Matt Stone make another picture. Here’s just a brief sampler of the catalog of crude offerings on display here: ample nudity, urination, violence, up to and including mild genital mutilation, various religions mocked, and a toddler hopped up on cocaine. Yet somehow it all comes together into a yuletide celebration of warm and cozy multiethnic yuks.
Perennially stoned geek besties Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have drifted apart since the last installment, each in a long term relationship with a real woman, and doing the unthinkable by edging deeper into adulthood. The slightly stodgier Harold, is firmly lodged in suburbia, with his baby hungry new wife and her huge extended family coming over for a huge Christmas party. Troublemaking slacker pal Kumar is heartbroken that he didn’t get an invite to aforementioned soirée, yet still manages to burn down the prize Christmas tree, hand grown by Harold’s intimidating father-in law (played with a wink by tough guy Machette star Danny Trejo). This sets our intrepid duo on a quest for a replacement tree, along the way suffering car crashes, run ins with Russian mobsters, musical numbers and hallucinogens so strong they turn the guys into claymation characters. It’s not all bad though; they get to scarf some of their beloved White Castle sliders, and befriend an awesome sidekick called “Wafflebot”, which as advertised, is a robot that serves waffles. We get the inevitable cameo by the delightful series regular Neil Patrick Harris, the joke being that his real world gayness is just a cover for this cad to score more “p-tang”. Also on hand is comedy journeyman Thomas Lennon, who god bless him, is a pretty sure sign that you’re watching a middlebrow comedy. The 3-D effects are done with a smirk, as exploding ornaments and bodily fluids come flying off the screen. Much of the film was shot in the Metro area, subbing for New Jersey, with glimpses of Ann arbor peeking through, and the home of the Hashbash seems a perfect place for such antics.
You get what you pay for here; not exactly world-shattering comedy, but the jokes come quick and easy. The trouble, as any junky knows, is you need bigger and bigger doses just to maintain the same high; and it’s difficult to imagine how much raunchier the series could safely get. Their high spirited forefathers Cheech and Chong had tremendous success, then kept tapping the same vein over and over again; with diminishing returns. Will Harold and Kumar suffer the same fate? Probably, but as long as there is a buck in it, these dudes seemed poised to keep the buzz going at any cost.