Seasons Greetings all. We’re passed Halloween which in America means all the stores can pretend it’s Christmas for the next 2 months. Rockefeller Center has the tree, the ice rink is being put together, and the subways are plastered with ads for Christmas movies. Starting off the Christmas movie season early is A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. Below is the red band trailer.
Harold and Kumar have always held a special place in my heart. When I first saw Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. I laughed. I laughed hard. When I go to movies, I don’t really laugh. I chuckle. I smile. I’ll like the jokes. But I don’t uproariously laugh. For H&K GT WK I did. And I wasn’t even high.
White Castle had a lot going for it. It was always willing to make a joke that perhaps we’d seen before then move the joke to the next level. Like when Kumar sees a giant bag of weed which has a fantasy about marrying. Sure, funny-ish joke. You see them dancing, getting their pictures taken, etc. But then the joke keeps going. Kumar is stressed doing work late into the night and the bag of weed, dressed in a bathrobe brings him coffee. Kumar spits the coffee out and yells at his wife and calls her a bitch. Cut to a scene of him apologizing. The idea that in Kumar’s love fantasy, it would go as far as the bad parts of marriage is just hilarious to me.
White Castle also had very clever racial humor that spoke to the prejudices of society. Often the jokes would go that extra step like the example above. The sequel Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay wasn’t nearly as clever. Daily Show alum Rob Corddry played a racist Homeland Security agent hunting the duo down. Most of the racial humor was from him and was flat and disappointing. Save one college flashback scene the movie never live up to its predecessor.
So where does that leave Harold and Kumar’s third outing? To cut to the chase. Better than the 2nd film. Not as good as the first. The set up is a bit more interesting than Guantanamo Bay. From the first movie to the second, there is no time jump. The movie literally picks up where the first one left off.
Between the second movie and this one, it’s been 4 years. Harold and Kumar have grown up (or at least Harold has) and the duo has had a falling out. The catching up with the characters is interesting and a lot of fun. Harold is a wall street banker and has married Maria. They have a house in the suburbs and Harold is trying to impress her father (played by Danny Trejo of Machette.)
Kumar’s life has collapsed and his girl friend Vanessa has dumped him. A mysterious package addressed to Harold shows up on Kumar’s doorstep, bringing the two back together. When Kumar accidentally burns down Maria’s father’s personally grown Christmas tree, the new adventure ensues.
- The clever humor is back. There is a hilarious scene with two black guys who switch off being the “crazy black guy.” Also the “getting older” humor works two. H & K find themselves surrounded by teenagers at a house party. A beer pong challenge and a hilarious Karate Kid joke really has fun with the generational shift.
- Neil Patrick Harris is a show stealer. Since the 2nd film NPH has come out of the closet. The movie does a hilarious job of rectifying the homosexuality so it works perfectly with the character.
- I honestly felt satisfied with the development of the characters and friendship. I’m actually glad they did some sort of emotional journey between the two of them.
What doesn’t work? Plenty.
- My biggest complaint is that the film itself doesn’t feel as epic as the other two. The first two movies feel like exhausting journeys. Almost Odysseys. This film feels very truncated. It may be because there is so much set up with the 4 year time jump. Also, Kumar’s conflict with Vanessa seems abrupt as well.
- The side kicks. Both Harold and Kumar have new best friends. Harold has Todd (played by Thomas Lennon) a straight edged, boring, suburban dad who brings his daughter along on the adventure. His humor comes from his daughter continually but accidentally getting high from random narcotics. Meanwhile, Kumar has Adrian (played by Collegehumor.com‘s Amir Blumenfeld.) As hilarious as I find Amir on collegehumor, he just didn’t work in this film. Neither of them do. The movie pretty much shoves them in a closet for half the film, which is pretty boring.
- Wafflebot. Halfway through the film they introduce a waffle making robot/toy which Kumar finds endearing. But the design, execution, and integration of the walking trashcan is tiresome. It’s supposed to be love able, but instead it weigh moments down. Imagine C3p0. Now make him move about about a 1/4 the speed. Replace that charming “beep-boop” sounds with a digitized whinny Jewish grandmother, and you have Wafflebot.
- The 3D. The movie itself makes fun of the fact that no one cares about 3D. So why make this movie only available in 3D driving up the price of admission to $17? There are some fun action sequences, but this movie didn’t need it. It’s about the dialogue and the jokes. There was one fun claymation scene (brought on by an acid trip) but the 3D added nothing to it. The hard core fans will pay the 17 bucks, but that’s about it. Way to kill your box office?