*As with Cheech and Chong’s string of classic stoner comedies of a generation ago, it looks like longevity might also be in store for relatively-nerdy Harold & Kumar’s series of similarly-themed, Marijuana misadventures. Co-stars John Cho and Kal Penn reprise their roles as the title characters here, with the movie marking the latter’s return to the big screen after signing on to serve in the Obama Administration a couple of years ago.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, the third installment in the franchise, unfolds a half-dozen years after the conclusion of the pot-smoking pair’s previous outing, Escape from Guantanamo. At the point of departure, we learn that the pals have grown apart over the interim, ostensibly because Harold has married, settled in suburbia and taken a job on Wall Street while Kumar has continued to enjoy the life of a carefree bachelor after getting kicked out of med school for flunking a drug test.
Obviously, it is just a matter of time before the predictable plotline must find an excuse to reunite the inseparable protagonists. That moment arrives when Kumar decides to deliver a package addressed to his ex-roommate which came to their old apartment. Although the suddenly-straitlaced Harold says he’s “kinda glad all the craziness is behind me,” the banker makeover is out the window once they discover a mammoth, Bob Marley-sized joint inside the parcel.
Upon lighting it, our heroes accidentally set fire to the Christmas tree which, and so they subsequently embark on a desperate quest to replace it before Harold’s wife (Paula Garces) and his in-laws return from Church. This proves easier said than done, given that it’s late on Christmas Eve.
What ensues is your garden-variety ganja flick, except one featuring a distinctly Yuletide spin. Better brace yourself for a Christmas wreath festooned with cannabis instead of holly leaves, for plays on words about “Winter Wonder Weed” and “Hannukah Hash,” and to have big clouds of smoke blown in your face in 3D.
While the uninitiated might consider the incessant association of the holiday season with substance abuse almost blasphemous, fans of the franchise will undoubtedly get a kick out of the relentless irreverence. Along for the ride is Neil Patrick Harris again playing himself, as well as a couple of new buddies in Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) and Todd (Thomas Lennon).
As the guys crisscross New York City in search of another 12-foot fir, they encounter everything from fellow party animals to naked nuns to Ukrainian mobsters to Santa Claus himself. A raunchy and religiously-incorrect roller coaster ride for the very-open minded, not to be mistaken for one of those traditional, sentimental Christmas yarns.
What’s in store for number four, Harold and Kumar get Uncle Sam high on the Fourth of July?
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for drug use, crude humor, pervasive profanity, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and violence.
Running time: 90 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers