A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas does not boast of a strong script or any other major artistic merit, Aseem Chhabra warns viewers with discerning taste for good cinema.
Harold Lee and Kumar Patel are back -- in the movie theaters. They are older, and well, not necessarily wiser. Which in a way is a good thing, since the message in the new film A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is this (if there is indeed a message in the Harold & Kumar franchise created and written by the duo Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg) -- one cannot take life too seriously. Fun and laughter have to be the eternal part of a good life lived, along with sliders from White Castle and a bag of good quality weed.
The third installment of the Harold & Kumar franchise is outrageous, sometimes shocking and at times very, very funny. But the most important point is that a Korean-American actor -- John Cho and his Indian American counterpart Kal Penn are still able to make headlines.
Many amongst us take pride in the successes of over achieving, model minority Asian kids -- excelling in spelling bees, SAT scores and more. But the H&K films show that it is okay to celebrate stoned out Asian slackers, with their ability to be equal opportunity insensitive towards all ethnicities. If white and black actors can be box office draws in crass comedies like Hangover, Pineapple Express and Big Momma's House, then it is also okay for our desi Kumar and the Korean Harold to be foul mouthed and wickedly funny in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. As a side note, it is remarkable that Penn aka Kalpen Modi can lead a dual life -- doing serious committed work for the nation as he serves President Barack Obama's White House, while also being the face of desi pot smoking hero in the H&K series.
H&K3 starts a few years after we left the crazy duo in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. One of the highlights of that film was when the two Asian dudes sit down and smoke marijuana with the former President George W. Bush. Indeed irreverence is the hallmark of these films. A few years later -- sad as it may seem the two friends are estranged. Harold now lives the suburban American dream life with his hot Latino wife Maria (Paula Garcés), a beautiful white house, and a dream job at a law firm. Never mind that there are Occupy Wall Street type protestors shouting slogans outside his office window.
And it is somewhat sad that the friends are estranged, since Kumar is still stuck in his stoner stage of life, living in a messy smoky apartment. Yes, he is still an underachiever having flunked the drug test in his medical school and he still smokes pot. It is Christmas Eve and two incidents will reconnect the friends. Kumar's former girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Harris) comes knocking at his door to announce that she is pregnant with his child. And also Kumar receives a package at his door. It is addressed to Harold.
By chance the two friends reconnect (later we are told Santa Claus had something to do with it) and the film takes off with one focus --- they have to find a perfect Christmas tree, before Harold's scary looking Latino father-in-law returns home from mass.
Complicated story, but Kumar is in his inherent stupidity had burned down the tree in Harold's house. The rest of the film has the buddies traversing through New York City -- a crazy teenage party hosted by the kids of a Russian mafia boss; a Radio City Music Hall like performance with Neil Patrick Harris dancing and singing, and challenging the reality of his being gay; and a foul-mouthed Santa Claus who gets shot in his head.
Harold and Kumar do not show their butts here, but the R-rated film has a giant claymation penis! And in another scene Harold's sexual organ gets stuck to a frozen pole. The best part of the film is an adorable and very funny drugged out little baby girl who keeps inhaling marijuana smoke and cocaine powder. Who said the H&K films were supposed to be socially and morally responsible?
Now that almost every silly Hollywood film is in the 3D format, so why would H&K3 be left behind? First time director Todd Strauss-Schulson has a blast using 3D -- throwing everything from eggs -- full sized and broken, with yucky looking yoke, to a lot of marijuana smoke and cocaine powder at us.
Serious filmgoers and those with discerning taste for good cinema should be warned. H&K3 is wacky, mindless, and it does not boast of a strong script or any other major artistic merit. But the film is hugely entertaining and it has a heart. Like the smoke and power that we almost inhale watching the film with the 3D glasses, H&K3 can be very addictive!