Our loveable stoners are in high spirits once again in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, the charmingly moronic third entry in the series.
In the years since last we saw our duo, Harold (John Cho) has become a successful member of adult society with a good job, a lovely wife and a very nice home in the suburbs. Kumar (Kal Penn) has done none of these things. He got kicked out of med school for failing a drug test, lives in the same apartment that he and Harold used to share and has even alienated Vanessa (Danneel Ackles), the girl whose wedding Kumar broke up in the second movie. But Vanessa has news that might finally bring to an end Kumar’s exceptionally extended adolescence: she’s pregnant. Kumar handles this news badly, immediately regrets his reaction and, when a package arrives for Harold, he seeks out his old friend, in part we suspect to find someone to talk to.
You see, Harold and Kumar have drifted apart. As it is, Kumar’s best friend is now a loathsome sleaze named Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld). Harold’s new best friend is the very suburban Todd (Tom Lincoln), a man who calls Harold “Harry” and who has never heard of the Wu-Tang Clan. Harold, fearing the destruction Kumar might cause, didn’t even invite his one-time bestie to his upcoming holiday party. As it is, Harold’s Christmas Eve is consumed with perfecting the decorations for his house and with Maria’s visiting family, including her Christmas fundamentalist father (Danny Trejo in full Machete mode).
When Kumar shows up to give Harold the package, many things go wrong and soon Harold & Kumar and Adrian and Todd — and his toddler daughter Ava (Ashley Cross and Chloe Cross) — are headed back into the city in search of the perfect Christmas tree that will please Maria’s father and save Christmas.
What’s more offensive, the jokes about Asians or the jokes about Mexicans? That’s hard to say — it’s like asking: what’s worse, the scenes with a baby high on cocaine or the part where Santa is accidentally shot in the face? Or is the answer to every “what’s worse” question simply “every scene with Neil Patrick Harris in it,” who indeed plays the worst person in the world and yet still manages to be sparkling and delightful? (Seldom do you see an actor having an absolutely smashing time the way Harris does here.) As with previous Harold & Kumars, this movie embraces its offensiveness and its toilet humor vision of life, and somehow manages to come out the other end looking kind of clever. It’s hard to describe what makes the un-PC jokes here so much better and smarter than the meanness-edged homophobia and misogyny of many a dude comedy. Delivery? The inherent decency of Harold and Kumar? The fact that it’s all presented with a big sloppy dog kiss of love? The very first Harold & Kumar had some smart stuff to say about race and class and the immigrant experience. This one actually has some nice observations about growing up and marriage. So, maturity, insightfulness, pot jokes.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas isn’t just fun, isn’t just smarter than it looks, it’s also a nice addition to the holiday movie collection in the vein of Scrooged and Bad Santa. B
Rated R for, like, everything (specifically strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence). Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson and written by Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is an hour and 30 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros.