Review: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

rating:

3 out of 5 stars

Holiday films are much like Christmas sweaters and holiday albums by has-been recording artists sold next to the cash register at the Hallmark store: best avoided. I made an exception for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.

The newest film in the series picks up several years since the boys escaped from Guantanamo Bay. Harold (John Cho) is all grown up as a big-shot Wall Street trader with a fellow Korean-American as his loyal assistant (Bobby Lee, reviving his bit part from the first Harold and Kumar film). He's finally married to Maria Perez, and they live in a beautiful suburban home. Kumar, however, is still the immature boy he has always been. The epiphany he had at the end of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle has worn off, and we learn he has failed med school. Or rather, he failed a drug test. The two haven't seen each other in two years, and have replaced each other with newer, lamer friends.

The story starts with Kumar (Kal Penn, Assistant Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement) finding a mysterious package addressed to Harold on his doorstep. He drops it off at Harold's house. The estranged friends open the package and find a gigantic joint inside. Kumar naturally lights it up and accidentally sets the Christmas tree on fire. This is a problem, you see, because Maria's father is Danny Trejo (Machete), a frightening Mexicano with a scarred face and a Christmas tree sweatshirt. He is fanatical about Christmas trees and already has a very good reason to hate Koreans.

The two set out on a journey to replace the tree before the Perez family returns from midnight mass. They have run-ins with a pair of black Christmas tree salesmen, Ukrainian mobsters, Santa Claus and Neil Patrick Harris (Starship Troopers).

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Chrstimas is a worthy continuation of the series. The production value has increased greatly since the first film, and it makes good use of the 3D, using the same cheesy gimmicks as early 3D films from the '50s. True to the holiday-film genre, there is even a (cocaine induced) claymation sequence.

While better than Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the third film in the series doesn't have the fresh feel of the first. For example, in the first film, when we saw Doogie Howser snort a line of coke of a stripper's ass, it was shocking and funny. It has simply become expected the third time around. The movie is still funny, but the jokes are no longer new, and the laughs don't come as quick as the first film.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas may not be the holiday classic that A Christmas Story is (although there is a shocking scene that pays homage to the 1983 comedy), it is worth seeing in the theaters in 3D for anyone who enjoyed the first two films.

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