I’d never seen a whole Harold and Kumar movie until this one, but had seen enough pieces here and there to suspect I might have a good time. And, as it turned out, though I didn’t run right home to rent the other two after seeing this one, I definitely got some solid laughs out of it. In large part, I suspect, because I saw it with two incredibly sarcastic friends who delightfully refuse to take life too seriously.
The plot isn’t important here, but in a nutshell, Harold is about to get married and is no longer friends with his lazy, slovenly, going-nowhere pal Kumar. When Kumar gets a gift addressed to Harold, though, he decides it’s time to visit his old pal’s new house and maybe say hello.
Of course, everything goes disastrously wrong, and when a series of events result in Harold’s father-in-law-to-be’s special home-grown Christmas tree going up in (pot) smoke, the two old friends find themselves on a midnight quest for a replacement that leads them through a variety of ridiculous situations and features a running gag about a baby who keeps accidentally getting high. (We’re all going to hell, my friend commented, as the baby inhaled a bunch of cocaine and we laughed like crazy people. Totally worth it, I replied.)
This is the first 3D film I’ve seen since Avatar where I felt like the 3D effects were fascinating and fun instead of merely intrusive, and here it’s largely because the 3D is used as a dumb gimmick on purpose. Be prepared for oodles of marijuana smoke to come floating up so close to your face you can almost smell it (um, not that I’d know what it smells like, of course — hi, Mom!). That, plus lots of other incredibly silly gags made this movie exactly what it needed to be: an entertaining, brainless romp, with a smart and endearing edge (I say endearing because I went in not knowing Harold or Kumar, and left with a fondness for them that was almost sisterly in nature — good guys, those two. Not what I was expecting, to be honest).
As funny Christmas movies go, you could do a lot worse. I did get tired of a few of the gags by the end (endless rounds of ethnic jokes get old after a while for me, I confess), but it’s definitely worth a gander if you’re a fan of the other flicks in the series, or if you just feel like seeing something completely stupid this December.
Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Amir Blumenfeld, Paula Garcés,Danny Trejo, David Krumholtz, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Patton Oswalt, Elias Koteas