Kumar 3D Christmas
- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ollowing the disappointment of “Harold & Kumar Go to Guantanamo Bay,” not to mention co-star Kal Penn's surprising decision to accept a job at the White House, the likelihood that fans would ever see another Harold & Kumar adventure again seemed pretty slim back in 2008. And yet here we are, three years later, discussing the newest film in the ongoing stoner buddy franchise. But while my expectations were relatively low going into “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” it's actually a big improvement over the last sequel, hewing much closer to the spirit of the original film by refusing to take itself too seriously while still maintaining a certain level of tact that was sorely missing from the disastrous second installment.
It’s been several years since the events of “Guantanamo Bay,” and in that time, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Penn) have slowly grown apart. Now working as a Wall Street analyst, Harold has settled into married life with Maria (Paula Garcia), while Kumar still spends his days getting high after being kicked out of med school and dumped by Vanessa (Danneel Ackles). But when Kumar receives a mysterious package for Harold at their old apartment and delivers it to his house on Christmas Eve, he inadvertently burns down his father-in-law's (Danny Trejo) prize Christmas tree. With only a few hours until Maria's family returns from midnight mass, the duo heads out on another wild adventure through New York City to replace it, crossing paths with Ukranian gangsters, Neil Patrick Harris (of course) and even Santa Claus himself along the way.
It takes a lot of nerve to combine two cinematic gimmicks (3D and the holiday movie) into one film, but “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” is so unabashed about the way it approaches the material that the filmmakers are almost laughing along with the audience at the sheer ridiculousness of what they're getting away with. Director Todd Strauss-Schulson (stepping in for writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg) shows no shame in his willingness to exploit the 3D effects whenever possible, whether it's a Claymation penis, smoke rings, or a character that breaks the fourth wall in one of the film's many jabs at 3D. And for as gratuitous as it may be, it actually looks really good.
Apart from a few moments, however, the 3D doesn’t really add much to the comedy, so it’s up to Hurwitz and Schlossberg’s script to keep the laughs coming at a steady pace. Although the film’s supporting characters – namely, Harold and Kumar’s new friends played by Thomas Lennon and Amir Blumenfeld – threaten to derail the movie every time they’re onscreen (the recurring subplot involving Lennon’s kid getting hopped up on drugs wears thin quick), John Cho and Kal Penn’s great chemistry makes up for it.
But the real star of the movie is Neil Patrick Harris, who once again steals the show in an extended cameo as a fictionalized version of himself. He's so much fun to watch that when he casually bids farewell, “See you in the fourth one,” you’re actually excited about the possibility. "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" may be a little too hit-and-miss to warrant another sequel, but it does just enough right that fans would surely welcome it.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of " A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Chrismas" is disappointing to say the least, with an incredibly lackluster collection of special features that includes a meaningless interview with co-star Thomas Lennon, a look at the storyboards that were used in the planning of the Claymation sequence, and three deleted scenes. There’s also an extended cut of the film that runs six minutes longer, as well as a DVD version of the movie on the Blu-ray's flip side. Yep, that's how little effort went into this release.