A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (Rated R) Three Stars

While I loved Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle for its ability to challenge stereotypes, I thought Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay was an ill-considered disaster. A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (90 minutes) falls some-where in between. While I am sure there are callbacks to both movies, I only really picked up on the references back to Famous Original and Far Superior Harold and Kumar. For example, half-way through the film they go to White 11-23-11-movie.jpgCastle! Which reminds me that we need a White Castle in Fayetteville. Krystal Burgers just aren’t the same.

It is strange that the overall quality of the films is so variable, since the main players are the same, and writing partners Hurwitz and Schlossberg scripted all three movies. I think we can chalk the difference up to directing … the first film was helmed by Danny Leiner, while the second was co-directed by the co-writers. Todd Strauss-Schulson takes the reins on the latest film, so at least the writers realize they were lousy directors.

A very scrofulous Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) visits Santa (Patton Oswalt, currently stinking up the small screen on Adult Swim’s The Heart, She Holler). In the scene that follows, the directing apparently consist-ed of telling Kumar and Santa to get high and act stupid. Mission accomplished.

The scene shifts to a clearly successful Harold (John Cho). His assistant Kenneth (the extremely irritating Bobby Lee) has picked up a 3D television for Harold’s father-in-law, which they parlay into some self-referential 3D humor. In a scene that is either a really cool coincidence or a very last minute add (or maybe I completely misunderstand the timeline of movie creation), angry protestors oc-cupy a New York street with class warfare signs. Then they throw eggs at Kenneth, showcasing the only way that 3D should ever be used (to throw things and have them appear to come straight at the audience).

Luckily, Harold manages to escape most of the barrage. His new friend Todd (Thomas Lennon) is waiting to pick him up and take him back to his lovely wife in suburbia (Paula Garcés). Harold arrives home in time to learn that in addition to his father-in-law (Danny Trejo), the rest of Maria’s extended family is also planning to visit. Many stereotypes and several references to a big party follow. At least we get to see Trejo wearing a Christmas sweater!

Back at Kal’s lonely apartment, a package for Harold ar-rives, and (SPOILER ALERT) Kumar learns he is expecting a package of this own. Kumar decides to drop off the mystery gift at Harold’s before heading to a party with his new friend (Amir Blumenfeld). Of course, the moment these two share a scene hijinks ensue, pushing them into the quest that will drive the rest of the movie.

At first Harold and Kumar are accompanied by their bud-dies and Todd’s daughter (Isabella Gelniak). Later, the bud-dies get their own subplot involving Elias Koteas, and Saint Neil Patrick Harris shows up to make the film better and to give Kumar a Wafflebot for Christmas. Arguably, it was his turn in the first film that turned him into the cultural icon he is today, so it is nice to see him here. As is a must for Christmas comedies, the real Santa Claus (Richard Riehle) makes a cameo. Plus, midway through the film there is a fantastic Claymation sequence.

Overall, Harold and Kumar is a film using a quest as a platform for potty humor and drug jokes while showcasing the best use of 3D since Friday the 13th Part III. If nothing else, it will make you laugh.

Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.

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