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Tony’s Review of “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” [VIDEOS]

(Image Credit: New Line Cinema)

Just like my review of “Captain America“, better late than never.  However, unlike “Captain America” where I just didn’t get around to seeing it for a month, I made the conscious decision to wait to see this movie until we were full into the Christmas season.

Set 6 years after the events of “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle” and “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay“, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have drifted apart and not seen each other for a few years.  On Christmas Eve, Kumar’s life is falling apart around him.  His girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Ackles) has left him due to his excessive use of pot and being kicked out of medical school for failing a drug test.  Harold on the other hand has really made something of his life.  He and his wife Maria (Paula Garces) have a beautiful home, are trying to have a baby, and Harold is successful in his job on Wall Street.  Maria’s father Carlos (Danny Trejo) and the rest of her family are coming to Harold’s for Christmas, causing a lot of stress for Harold since Carlos has never accepted him as a son-in-law.  Carlos has a passion for Christmas and Christmas trees, bringing with him a family tree he’s been growing for 8 years.  While Maria, Carlos, and the rest of the family is out for a night in Manhattan and Midnight Mass, Kumar stops by to deliver a package for Harold that was delivered to their old apartment.  While there, a collection of crazy circumstances lead to Carlos’ tree being burned down.  Kumar, wanting to prove that he can clean up a mess (something that Vanessa earlier accused him of not being able to do), and his new friend Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) go out looking for a new tree while Harold and his new friend Todd (Thomas Lennon) and Todd’s toddler daughter Ava are also in search of a replacement tree.  After an accident on the freeway and a misunderstanding at a Christmas party, Harold and Kumar reunite to find a tree.

As a huge fan of the first two films, I was very concerned about this movie.  The first film had a unique charm to it that made it viable successor to “Cheech & Chong”.  The follow up, “Escape from Guantanamo Bay” was funny, but wasn’t to the level of the original.  As previous film series have shown, its become a regular thing for each successive sequel to be worse than the previous.  I’m very happy to say in this case, the third film in the series is as good as the original, if not better at certain points.  Seeing John Cho and Kal Penn working together again was fantastic.  The chemistry between these two was something that made the original great, and they haven’t missed a step.  These two have played such good friends in previous films that to see them highly tense and distant with each other at the beginning of the film does its job in not only making you want to see them find a new tree, but to become friends again.  With the exception of the new character Adrian, there isn’t really a weak character in the film.  Adrian isn’t really a bad character, but his whole existence is to just kick start a big part of the adventure for Harold and Kumar.  Thomas Lennon as Todd was awkwardly hilarious.  Todd is quite a goody-goody who obviously has a man-crush on Harold.  When Kumar re-enters the picture, Todd shows a bit of jealousy, especially when Kumar is able to calm Todd’s daughter with a Wu Tang Clan song.  Over the course of the film, Ava is accidentally exposed to pot, cocaine, and ecstasy, leading to some very disturbingly funny moments.   And no “Harold & Kumar” film would be complete without Neil Patrick Harris.  Once again, NPH steals the movie with his exaggerated take on himself.  After being shot in the back with a double-barrel shotgun in the previous film, the explanation of NPH’s resurrection is funny, but will undoubtedly offend some of the more religious members of the audience.

The humor in this film is as funny, and as crude, as ever.  Keep in mind, these movies were never intended to be anything but “R” rated films.  The gross out humor for this movie is amped up, with shots of every bodily function you can think of, claymation male nudity, and a graphic new take on the “tongue frozen to the flagpole” scene in “A Christmas Story” that made everyone in the audience cross their legs.  Apart from the gross out humor, the inclusion of self-referential, meta humor is a great addition to the movie.  At one point Adrian refers to Harold as “Sulu” (the part John Cho plays in “Star Trek”), Adrian tells Kumar he told people Kumar works at The White House (which Kal Penn actually did before stepping down to make this movie), NPH making reference to a fourth “Harold & Kumar” film, and Neil Patrick Harris’ fiance David Burtka plays a fictionalized version of himself like NPH.

After seeing “Tron: Legacy”, I had absolutely no hope for 3D films.  The 3D effects in “Tron” were so weak that you could barely even notice it.  With every other movie being released in 3D, I looked at 3D as a fad whose inclusion into a film meant the movie would be mediocre and need 3D to distract from the negative parts.  This movie has completely changed my mind.  First, the 3D effects were amazing.  The opening logo truly looked like it was just inches away from your face, and the multitude of 3D gags were done terrifically.  But more importantly, where most 3D films use the typical 3D gags in a serious fashion, “Harold & Kumar” uses every 3D gag as just that, a gag.  None of them are meant to be taken seriously, and are just there to be in your face and make you laugh.  The 3D isn’t a crutch, but a tool (as it should be).  And in taking that stance with 3D, this movie is probably on par with “Avatar” for use of the 3D technology.

“A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” was exactly what it set out to be, a very fun film.  If you are the kind of person that is easily offended, you need to stay away from this movie.  But if a rated “R” comedy hits your funny bone, this is definitely a movie you can see for full price at the theater and not regret shelling out the extra money to see it in 3D, which you must do.  For the longest time I’ve said that no Christmas for me is complete without watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “A Christmas Story”, and “Home Alone”.  After seeing this movie, I happily add it to the list.

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