Cast: Kal Penn, John Cho, Amir Blumenfeld, Tom Lennon, Danny Trejo, Elias Kotaes, Neil Patrick Harris, Paula Garces, Danneel Harris, Eddie Kaye Thomas, David Krumholtz, Bobby Lee
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Screenwriters: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Running Time 90 minutes
Harold & Kumar have really become a franchise! Even when I sat down to watch the third film of the stoner comedy I had that very thought running through my mind because way back in 2006 when these two went to Whitecastle, I never thought I would see another two films in the space of five years. What I loved about the original is how much of a surprise it was when it came out. I remember renting the title out simply because there was nothing else there and when I sat down to watch the film in hope really that I would at least have a little laugh, I found myself with tears running down my face.
Such was the popularity with these two that a sequel was instantly made but the one where they went to Guantanamo Bay was a very poor miss-step from all concerned. The humour was replaced with vulgar gags and daft set-pieces that made me more sad than happy because I really though that they had “Jumped the Shark!” with the concept. The best thing about the original was the simplicity of the set up. Here are two characters stoned out of their heads and just want a burger to stop the “munchies!” but end up getting into zany situations that had me smiling through out. The second one went all out for bigger and louder and ended up just a jumble mess and I honestly thought that this was the end of the whole show, but somehow they have managed to bring the duo back and this time its for a Christmas adventure. But is this more in tune of the first or does it keep the vulgar tone that ruined the sequel?
We start with christmas songs booming from the screen and it really makes you hope that this could be a rival for the likes of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in being the No 1 comedy to watch over the festival season. Soon we see Kumar (Karl Penn) and nothing as changed. Still a pothead, still living in that flat but this time without Vanessa (Danneel Harris) who has not only dumped him but also announced that she is carrying his child. Harold (John Cho) on the other hand is living the all American dream He is married to the lovely Maria (Paula Garces), has a stunning house and a very good job and life is going great until the in-laws arrive in the shape of Danny Trejo who along which his Mexican family looks like they has just stepped out of the film Machete! Already a dislike for his son in law, the father wants a perfect christmas and tells him a story of a precious Christmas Tree which he wants in the house. He tells Kumar to look after it while his family and Maria go out and Harold gives his word which is fine of course until Kumar turns up!
A king size joint ensures that the Christmas Tree goes up in flames and the two men along with Kumar’s horny pal Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) and Harold’s sort of gay friend (well I assume he likes Harold) Todd (Tom Lennon) — to jump in the car and look for a tree that is identical to the one they burnt to a crisp. Will they find a tree in time before the family return home?
Fans will notice straight away from this review that the plot already harks back to the original premise which is already a good thing! I could feel from the off that the mistakes made in the sequel were noted and it was like the writers vowed not to down that path again and what we have is just a simple caper of finding a tree. Of course this is Harold and Kumar and there is nothing simple in what they try to do and soon they find themselves fighting of Russian gangsters and everything else that gets thrown at them!
But is it funny?
Well there are a few moments that I did find myself roaring with laughter but they are far and few between. Now this will make confusing reading for you lot because I guess you are expecting a really negative review but even though I did not laugh as much as I should have, I still enjoyed this film. Its heck of a lot better than the last sequel and I seriously recommend the film due to the cameo again by Neil Patrick Harris who simply steals the whole show from the moment he arrives. Yes guys he did “die” in the second but then this is that kind of franchise and the gags he makes of his own sexuality (he recently came out gay) and the in joke of his “mind read” in Starship Troopers is worth the watch alone. For those confused and have not seen films 1 & 2, he plays himself and sends it up brilliantly!
The most talked about scene is the moment we see the duo become clay motion characters in a really funny “high trip” and then we get a bizarre appearance by Father Christmas that many could call the “moment the surreal lunacy of the franchise goes too far”, but come on guys, this is a film set around christmas. How you like this film will depend on your taste. If you think seeing a little girl high on drugs and crawling across the ceiling (think Trainspotting but funny) is your bag then you will enjoy the whole crazy caper but those who are looking for a more required taste will probably turn off well before the credits roll.
I for one really enjoyed it because I really love this pair. Penn and Cho have such a great chemistry that you can see the fun they are having come right out of the screen and talking about things like that, the 3D is all out to hit you with so much flying out the screen that you will be ducking and diving through out but this element will not distract you from the enjoyable watch.
In the film itself Neil says to the guys “I see you in the 4th!” and you know what? I can not wait!……..