Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Harold & Kumar in the March of the Toy Stoners

About the movie
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
MPAA rating:
for strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence
Running time:
Release date:
Patton Oswalt; Paula Garc├ęs; John Cho; Elias Koteas; Danny Trejo; Eddie Kaye Thomas; Thomas Lennon; Danneel Ackles; Kal Penn; Neil Patrick Harris
Directed by:
Todd Strauss-Schulson

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas had me at the cannabis-shaped snowflakes. They waft from the screen onto the lenses of stereoscopic glasses. Ordinarily one doesn't encounter this unlikely combination of low comedy, high ideals, and cheesy optical effects outside of a head shop.

With a scene change every 90 seconds and a gag every 15 or so, this third installment of the Harold & Kumar franchise, nearly funny as the first and funnier than the second, succeeds in its heroic quest to leave no stoner unturned. Think of it as Airplane! with controlled substances.

Two nicely mismatched buddies are now estranged. They are the tightly wound Harold (John Cho), an investment banker with Occupy Wall Street protesters surrounding his office, and the loosey-goosey Kumar (Kal Penn), who has a medical degree but failed his drug test. Harold, now married, lives in an upscale Jersey suburb; Kumar, no longer with his girlfriend, still lives in the Hoboken mancave he once shared with Harold. When Kumar exhales, the 3D smoke gets in your eyes.

Hasn't 3D jumped the shark? Harold asks self-referentially. Yes, it has. But as deployed, 1950s-style, in this geek Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis romp with pot and peyote and ecstasy in place of Johnnie Walker, it taps the funnybone. The 3D jokes are reliably funny. But another running gag, the inadvertent exposure of an apple-cheeked toddler to every drug known to slacker, elicits discomfort rather than laughter.

More coverage
  • The Skin I Live In
  • The point of this apparent R-rated pointlessness is that it's Christmas Eve, and Kumar accidentally has incinerated the Douglas fir that Harold's father-in-law nursed from a seedling and brought East from California. Harold needs a new tree. Kumar needs his old friend.

    On this night of a thousand drugs, one that involves encounters with tree salesmen pretending to be gangstas, Russian mobsters pretending to be human, and Neil Patrick Harris pretending to be straight, the stickler and the slacker ingest more than the Hangover dudes. And yes, H & K 3D pays a polite nod to that kindred drugathon as well as to A Christmas Story.

    How baked do Harold and Kumar get? So baked that during the movie's first hour they turn into Claymation figures. So baked that stoner illogic saturates the film and the nominal heroes are displaced by a 'droid called the Wafflebot, an automaton that looks like it was designed by George Jetson and dispenses waffles and syrup. (Where can I buy one?)

    The humor is rowdy, rude, and cheerfully crude, the high jinks mostly inoffensive (albeit massively illegal). Director Todd Strauss-Schulson is good at simulating how those under the influence become helpless observers of the human comedy - much like the movie audience. Two cheers for Harold & Kumar 3D.

    Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at carriedrickey@gmail.com.

    Film Critic
    We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
    Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

    Comment policy:

    Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

    Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

    Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

    Read 0 comments
    comments powered by Disqus
    Latest Videos:
    Also on Philly.com:
    letter icon Newsletter