November 7, 2011

Review: Have Yourself 'A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas'

"I gotta stay here and smoke this weed, otherwise, I won't get high."

There's probably no reason for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas to exist, but that's kind of the point. The first entry, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, was an unexpected, fun cult hit starring two likeable Asian-American leads in John Cho (Star Trek) and former White House Associate Director of Public Engagement Kal Penn (yes, seriously).

The first sequel, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, was a disappointing, scattered mess, failing to capture the same spirit of fun and scatological stoner humour of the original. Fortunately, HK3D more or less restores the same sense of fun and ridiculous adventure even making fun of its own existence.

The bare bones plot (not that it matters) echoes the original. Instead of feeding their munchies, the estranged best friends are forced to come together after a separation to find the perfect christmas tree. Stuffed in are a ton of many wildly amusing inside jokes and references to the cast.

I usually hate 3D, but quite enjoyed the depth and dimension here. The direction by MTV filmmaker Todd Strauss-Schulson is pretty sharp as the framing is stark, making HK3D the best filmed in the stoner trilogy. I was actually surprised by how aggressively visual the film was with skilled, thoughtful, high quality 3D filmmaking techniques, adding to the nonsense comedic theatrics.

I enjoyed the fantastical elements as an extension of the drug humour and characters' inebriation instead of random happenings. The situational craziness was relatively grounded in a bare semblance of an everyday world until various drugs and vices enter the picture.

Most importantly, the Harold & Kumar series comes from basic themes of friendship within Harold's ineptitude, fear, and being a man, contrasted with Kumar's immaturity, mixed with race bending humour. Stringed along with a series of Christmas themed sequences and scenes, HK3D moulds itself like a holiday classic complete with a fun claymation sequence.

Neil Patrick Harris has a incredibly well executed sequence playing off his real life persona in an extended musical sequence leading into a debaucherous sex scene. NPH is once again a scene stealer, maximizing his one-liners and self-mocking image.

There are, however, more than a few groans from lazy dialogue as well as dropped threads and jokes, but the film manages well enough to support the onscreen friendship. The mostly successful comedic gags lead HK3D to live up and surpass its modest expectations.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is a hilarious romp filled with lots of fun humour. It's not only enjoyable to watch on screen, but its sense of friendship and knowingness make it a silly and enjoyable cinematic experience in 3D.

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