A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (2011) dir. Todd Strauss-Schulson
Starring: Kal Penn, John Cho, Elias Koteas, Neil Patrick Harris
By Alan Bacchus
We're into the third entry in this series, a time when characters are usually farmed out to cheaper actors to accommodate lower budgets and the straight-to-video market. But this series seems to be improving with each new film proving that Harold and Kumar is one of the more surprisingly venerable comic franchises.
This film justly satisfies the requirements established in the previous two films. Returning are the two buddies and former roommates that form an odd couple scenario – Harold (Cho) is the conservative one, a Korean-American family man who is at odds with his pot smoking, med school drop-out, Indo-American friend, Kumar (Penn).
The film revels in shocking us with outrageous behaviour. Drug use is, of course, front and centre, and it’s not just weed and bongs. Even cocaine is featured with fun-loving humour. There are fewer cultural jokes than usual, the kind that play into the stereotypes of Koreans and Indians as overachieving academic math and tech wizzes. And we don't really miss those jokes, as it seems the franchise has successfully 'matured' from its slight concept into a series anchored by its likeable characters and perfectly cast comic duo.
This was a 3D film in theatres, and on Blu-ray, of course, it's 2D. But we can still laugh at the self-acknowledgement of the technology and all those sticks, eggs, candy canes, cocks and other debris shamelessly shoved in our faces for an exaggerated 3D effect.
As for the 'story', Harold and Kumar's new adventure has them gallivanting around town on Christmas Eve looking for the perfect tree to replace Harold's valued family tree, which they destroyed in a fire. A couple of tag-along characters, Kumar's douche bag buddy and Harold’s ultra-conservative neighbour, add some freshness. Along the way the neighbour's baby gets doused in cocaine and spends the rest of the film on a twitchy coke high. Ukrainian gangsters also come into play, as do Harold and Kumar's respective wife and girlfriend, who provide the requisite closure to their personal journey of self-realization.
A surprisingly enjoyable raunchy comedy, the Harold and Kumar franchise continues to satisfy and provide dumb laughs through its unintentionally endearing characters.
A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas is available on Blu-ray from Warner Home Entertainment.