‘A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas’ Delivers Holiday Laughs

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Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” delivers exactly what fans should expect from it and even a bit more, as the actors who play the stoner icons have gotten noticeably better at their craft and the production team behind the film has gone all out in a quest to throw as many jokes as possible at the viewer in a barrage of attempts at hilarity. It’s one of those comedies in which if one joke falls flat for you (and more than one definitely will), it’s mere seconds before the writers are trying something different. Every time the film threatens to collapse, the sheer manic nature of the piece saves it.

Christmas has become such an over-the-top holiday (most stores already have their holiday swag out and Starbucks is making Peppermint Lattes closer to Halloween every year), that it makes sense that a comedy centered around the increasingly-insane holiday be over-the-top as well. Claymation, a drugged-out baby, Machete in Christmas sweaters, a lavish holiday number sung by Neil Patrick Harris, Santa himself with a severe head injury – “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” is admirably ridiculous. We don’t go to a 3D comedy sequel about a pair of stoner buddies for subtlety and the team behind this sequel, an improvement on “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay,” understand that fact. It’s a stupid comedy, but in all the right ways.

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas
A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas
Photo credit: New Line Pictures

Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) haven’t spoken in years. The uptight Harold still works a thankless job but worries more nowadays about impressing his intense father-in-law (Danny Trejo), a man obsessed with providing the perfect Christmas. He even brings his own Christmas tree. Living in the ‘burbs, trying to impress the in-laws, refraining from the wacky weed – Harold has settled down.

Of course, Kumar hasn’t done anything of the sort. The film opens with him smoking down with a mall Santa (Patton Oswalt) and shortly thereafter reveals that poor Kumar has gone downhill since he became estranged from the more conservative half of his partnership. He’s basically a slob pothead and he’s replace Harold with a remarkably annoying jerk named Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld). Adrian’s attempts at seducing a girl he met online along with a surprise package on Kumar’s door for Harold will reunite the two and send them on another bizarre adventure with a Christmas twist.

“A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” plays with its gimmick most prominently in the first reel as Bobby Lee, playing one of Harold’s co-workers, points directly at the camera and gets pegged with 3D eggs. The opening Kumar & Santa weed scene plays with giving viewers a contact buzz by blowing pot smoke in 3D. But then the writers kind of pull away from it. Sure, there are spumes of cocaine during a shoot-out at a party and some confetti in the final act, but the 3D is not as annoying as you might expect from the commercials. It’s in-your-face and then it’s gone.

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas
A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas
Photo credit: New Line Pictures

Which is really the operating theme of the entire production. Writers Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg and director Todd Strauss-Schulson understand that a movie called “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” needs to be pretty manic in order to work. The last thing anyone wants to be during this film is bored. And while a number of the jokes miss their mark, the movie is never boring. It moves along at a strong comic pace, only sagging a bit when the boys are off-screen and we’re forced to watch Adrian and the always-annoying Thomas Lennon as Harold’s new friend Todd.

It’s also worth noting that Cho and Penn are notably better actors than they were during the first two films. Of course, no one is going to talk much about performance in a piece like this but it’s impossible to deny that the two have not only become more comfortable in these roles but have simply matured as actors, probably in no small part due to their work on “FlashForward” and “House.” Their comic timing and commitment to the project can be infectious. A lot like the hoopla around Christmas itself – while some of it can be annoying, eventually most of us just give in.

“A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” stars Kal Penn, John Cho, Amir Blumenfeld, Thomas Lennon, Elias Koteas, Neil Patrick Harris, and Danny Trejo. It was written by Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg and directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson. It was released on November 4th, 2011.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Manny be down's picture

Harold & Kumar 3 D

I found it be very funny but they might be too old to be getting a buzz.

ziggy one of the best's picture

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Xmas

Wow I have to tell you I think that cute little girl was the best parts in this funny movie.

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