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A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas marks a very special place in cinematic history. Never before has such a diverse and over-qualified group of people come together to make such a dumb film. Enjoyable in parts, yes. But still idiotic in the extreme.
The third of the Harold & Kumar films, I accidentally watched the first one as a younger, drunker man. It shall long hold a special place in my heart as being a film I once (and only once) saw.
Having somehow (dodged) missed the second one, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, I find myself in a similar spot with this, the pair’s Christmas opus – I didn’t really care about it at the start and I don’t really care about it now. However, I bear none of the actors involved any ill-will because it seems like the sort of thing other people will laugh their asses off at. It’s not mean spirited like a lot of the recent crop of “bro” and gross-out comedies and, despite being a stoner movie with a small amount of poo-flinging, the over-arcing message of not being a git and not forgetting who your friends are is presented in surprisingly heart-warming style.
For the uninitiated, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are college bffs whose adventures began when a dose of drug-induced munchies led them on a surreal but epic adventure across New Jersey looking for burgers.
Now, three films later, the pair are older and, in one case wiser and very different from the boys they first began as.
Some time has passed since their Guantanamo escapade and Harold is now a successful businessman with a beautiful Latina wife, a terrifying, Christmas-obsessed father-in-law (played by axe-faced psycho Danny Trejo) and a white picket fence.
It’s been over a year since he’s had any contact with his old mucker Kumar who, having been kicked out of med school, has become a beardy wreck of a man in no state to cope with the news that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant.
A mysterious present and a burned down tree conspire to throw the two together and they spend most of the film searching for a replacement tree, avoiding Russian gangsters and trying not to kill Santa.
It’s all very silly but makes sense within its own little world. It’s funny but not hilarious but only the most curmudgeonly will fail to crack at least a few smiles throughout.
The best thing the H&K films ever did was reintroduce the world to the wonder of Neil Patrick Harris. The sight of the former Dougie Howser playing a pill-munching, sociopathic version of himself in the first film was magnificent and in an extended cameo here, he continues to play up his public image brilliantly. Imagine Barney from How I Met Your Mother if said sit-com was on telly way, way past the watershed.
Penn, who has been working in the White House, yes, that White House, for the last few years, does hang dog goofy well but is probably a better public servant than he is an actor. Cho meanwhile, who comes across as quite serious and earnest about his work in interviews, still has Star Trek to fall back on if the fourth H&K flick doesn’t take his career where he wants it to go. Basically they’re both better than this movie but, given how harmlessly goofy and relatively inoffensive the film is, it’s easy to see why they did it.
Just don’t expect too much because that’s exactly what you’re going to get.

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