Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

Land of Misfit Haze

Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Writers: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Cast: Kal Penn, John Cho, Thomas Lennon, Amir Blumenfeld, Danny Trejo, Paula Garcés, Neil Patrick Harris, Elias Koteas, Jordan Hinson

 Six years after the escape from Guantanamo Bay, Harold is married and successful, while Kumar is alone and without a job. On Christmas Eve, when Harold's father-in-law's uber-meaningful home-grown Christmas tree goes up in smoke, Harold and Kumar begrudgedly re-team to find a replacement.

REVIEW: TV movie and video short director Todd Strauss-Schulson takes the directing reins for the third Harold and Kumar adventure, now revolving around the Christmas holidays. Written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, character creators and writers of the first two films, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas takes a hint from Chevy Chase and the National Lampoon's Vacation franchise by targeting a holiday. Wait...dude... are the Harold and Kumar films a direct parallel to Vacation? First a film about a quest, then a trip out of the country, now a holiday event! It may be the second-hand buzz, but I think I have stumbled across a conspiracy of epic proportion!

The film opens on Kumar (Kal Penn) cutting the line to see the mall's Santa Claus. Then we see a successful Harold (John Cho) looking out over a mob of Wall Street protesters. The two have grown apart in their friendship, both dealing with their own lives and issues. When Harold's wife Maria's (Paula Garcés) father and her extended show up on Christmas Eve to stay for the holidays, Mr. Perez (Danny Trejo) brings with him a home-growth 8-year-old fir tree that holds special meaning for him and the Christmas holidays. When Kumar receives a package at his apartment addressed to Harold, he decides to deliver it to Harold, setting off a chain reaction that starts off with a house fire and ends up with a bullet-ridden Santa Claus.

What makes a crazy concept like Harold and Kumar work in any of their films is... you guessed it... conflict! Wait! What? No, it's not the endless joint smoking or bong hitting. No, it's not the gratuitous anatomical references and full on camera shots to their extremities. No, it's not about being immature or graphic. In A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, while the aforementioned are certainly silly, funny and vulgar, its the conflict and pursuit of resolution that propels the story and makes you care about the characters. Kumar is dealing with the loss of his job and some unexpected news (No Spoilers Here). Harold is dealing with Maria's disapproving father and must take on the quest to replace Mr. Perez's sacred Christmas tree and have it decorated before the family returns from Midnight Mass in Manhattan. The impossible situations that Harold and Kumar put or find themselves in, ultimately, keeps the audience interested and engaged. All of the crazy antics and references are just the bonus decorations on the tree.

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas also does something other than simply entertaining the potheads and fans of the franchise. Like Elf, it pays homage to so many of the other Christmas episodes and movies that exist in the canon of holiday cinema. Nods of the cap with a claymation sequence, the majesty of Manhattan at its beautiful best during November and December, an unexpected gift in an ornate hand carved and velvet lined box, the candy cane and tin soldier musical number, and more.

Older but not necessarily wiser, John Cho's Harold still needs to loosen up, and Kal Penn's Kumar still needs to grow up. Neil Patrick Harris's... er, Neil Patrick Harris sings, dances and reminds us why he is a cult and mainstream icon (just see an episode of How I Met Your Mother to see how legend... wait for it...dary! he is). Old friends and flames return to the third entry of the franchise, ever-changing and ever-entertaining. The 3D is good, especially when the coils of heavy smoke drifts into our faces or an egg from a member of an angry mob gets hurled at us.

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas is fun for its fan base. But do not let the endearing title fool you. Keep the kids away unless you want to have to explain a few things to them after, or during, the film. So get your wrapping papers ready and enjoy the trip!

WORTH: Matinee or DVD (for franchise fans)

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