- Running time:
- 90 minutes
- John Cho -
- Kal Penn -
- Neil Patrick Harris -
- Danneel Harris -
- Paula Garcés -
Six years after uptight Harold (John Cho) and careless Kumar (Kal Penn) made it to White Castle and escaped Guantanamo Bay, the former friends have gone their own ways. Harold has a cushy Wall Street job and is happily married to dream girl Maria (Paula Garces), while Kumar barely moves from his couch and is separated from supposed soulmate Vanessa (Danneel Harris). Their paths are destined to cross for another wild night of marijuana-fueled misadventures—this time on Christmas Eve.
The buzz: It’s been three years since 2008’s “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay,” which opened four years after 2004’s “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.” The inexpensive franchise has never been box office gold (“Guantanamo” brought in $38 million in the U.S., while “White Castle” did $18 million), but clearly turns enough of a profit to keep popping up. The threequel was written, like always, by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, but directed by first-timer Todd Strauss-Schulson.
The verdict: Back in 2004, there was enough inherent novelty value in a comedy pairing a Korean-American and Indian-American as stoner buddies with fast food cravings. In 2011, times haven’t changed much, and neither have Harold and Kumar. The “more of the same” mandate may satisfy fans of middling marijuana jokes, but can’t really justify a third film that’s visually ambitious but comedically burnt out. Once you get past the literal high point of Kumar’s bong smoke wafting off the screen in 3D, this is just another sequel low on invention and worthy comic payoffs. Thankfully more lighthearted and less desperately crass than its pitiful predecessor, it would still take more than the addition of Christmas cheer and an “oh-no-they-didn’t!” coked-out toddler to recapture the simple absurdist adventure of “White Castle.” Most of the scenarios here are instantly forgettable—Patton Oswalt’s brief cameo as a pot-dealing mall Santa, Harold’s racially charged feud with his intimidating father-in-law (Danny Trejo), a maniacal Russian gangster (Elias Koteas) who thinks the guys may have deflowered his daughter, a claymation interlude—while the inevitably solid Neil Patrick Harris cameo (gamely continuing to spoof himself as a macho caricature, this time with an appropriately gay Yuletide twist) only serves to make the surrounding business look even more anemic. Cho and Penn’s natural chemistry remains as strong as ever, and while it’s still a pleasure to see them together on screen, it’s hard to say the same for their characters.
Did you know? Penn gave up acting to work in the Obama White House two years ago, but went on hiatus from the government job to fulfill his previous commitment to this movie. He returned to the D.C. gig last November.
“A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” is also playing in 2D. Find local showtimes here.
Follow Metromix's Geoff Berkshire on Twitter: @geoffberkshire
Movie theaters and showtimes for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas in Phoenix.
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