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A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

November 7, 2011
A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

It was only a matter of time, but Harold and Kumar are back for a third round. Naturally, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is another stoner gross-out comedy, but the boys seem to have mellowed over the years. Don’t worry: there’s plenty of misadventure to go around, but even its excesses don’t seem very excessive. It’s a monumentally stupid movie, of course, but at least it’s fully aware of exactly how stupid it is, and carries its stupidity off with an impish wink and nod that can be very charming, indeed.

Over the past few years, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have grown apart. Kumar has been kicked out of his medical training over — what else — a drug test; since his girlfriend, Vanessa (Danneel Harris), left him he has sunk into an unkempt squalor, with his friend Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) the only one who will drag him out to a party on Christmas Eve. Harold, on the other hand, has found success on Wall Street and a beautiful wife, Maria (Paula Garcés). His new suburban friend, Todd (Thomas Lennon), is the antithesis of hip, though, and Maria’s father (Danny Trejo) doesn’t care much for Harold at all.

But then a mysterious package addressed to Harold shows up at the apartment he used to share with Kumar, and Kumar decides to take it by Harold’s house. It turns out to contain a massive spliff, which proceeds to burn down the tree Harold had promised to decorate for Maria’s father. As you can imagine, hijinx ensue. There’s plenty of sex, drugs, and violence to go around. Of course it couldn’t be a Christmas movie without Santa Claus (Richard Riehle), and it wouldn’t be a Harold and Kumar movie without Neil Patrick Harris (Neil Patrick Harris). The action carries smoothly along from one episode to the other, but sometimes it does feel somewhat phoned-in.

I’m pretty sure I’ve made it clear that in the vast majority of cases, 3D is nothing but an expensive marketing gimmick, and this is no exception. The difference is that this movie knows and agrees completely. It misses no opportunity to highlight just how silly the fad is by throwing everything they can think of at the audience: eggs, shards of glass, pointing fingers, cocaine, flaming joints, candy canes, top hats, and billowing clouds of marijuana smoke all come flying out of the screen. And every time it’s clear that everyone knows just how stupid it all is, but damn if the movie doesn’t at least have a great sense of humor about itself.

And really that’s all it takes to pull this sort of thing off. You don’t show up to A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas expecting great acting or a great story. You come for the risqué; the willingness to push at the bounds of good taste but not at the bounds of good humor. And if by the time you leave you aren’t offended at least once, you haven’t gotten your money’s worth.

Worth It: yeah, for what it is. You already know whether it’s your sort of thing or not.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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