They’ve been to White Castle, to Guantanamo Bay, and to Amsterdam to be precise. After three years away the unlikely duo returned for the third entry in the franchise last Christmas, but because of the festive nature of their marijuana-fuelled adventure we’ve had to wait until this year’s holiday season for the home release. Luckily A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is worth the wait.
At the end of the last film all was well. The guys had got high with the President, cleared their names, got the girls and remained the closest of friends. Writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (who passed up returning to direct in favour of boarding American Reunion) decide to inject some conflict this time by having the pair now estranged; Harold’s now a serious businessman and family man, while Kumar has become an unemployed, perpetually high bum. They’re only thrown back together when a mysterious Christmas joint burns down Roldy’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree, prompting a mad, drug-fuelled trip to track a new one down.
In case you don’t know what to expect from this franchise by now it’s laid out in no uncertain terms in the opening scene. Kumar visits a Mall Santa (Patton Oswalt), punches him in the balls in front of the waiting children, and then waits for him in the parking lot where he buys a special Christmas blend of weed from the boot of his car. A smoking marijuana Christmas reef then bursts out of the screen. It’s wonderful. Well, providing you’re down with this kind of humour, that is. Some people would need to be as high as Kumar to appreciate it (and one can only imagine there’s some merit in that kind of viewing experience), but needless to say if you found its predecessors funny then this is business as usual.
Given that this was Harold and Kumar’s first 3D movie, your enjoyment may be slightly affected depending on whether you’re watching at home in 2D or 3D. There’s some fun to be had in seeing Kumar blow smoke rings or cocaine snowflakes exploding from the screen (and there are a couple of gags directly at the expense of the gimmicky third dimension), but this is the novelty kind of 3D rather than the immersive kind, so watching the basic version is no great loss. The real fun is seeing the sticky situations Harold and Kumar get themselves into. This time around they get a baby high, experience life in stop-motion, recreate a scene from A Christmas Story (with a twist), shoot Santa in the face and, of course, Neil Patrick Harris is back too in what may be his best cameo yet.
This is a franchise that totally knows who its audience is and what they want to see. It’s not particularly clever, it’s nowhere near sophisticated, but this is the kind of nonsense that works because it’s grounded by a pair as eternally likable as Harold and Kumar. Cho and Penn are always good value, but never more so than when they’re together. By now the lovable stoners feel like old friends, and there’s no time like the holidays to catch up with old friends.