On DVD: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

The two most lovable stoners in movie history return in “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” which somehow continues the series’ impressive balancing act of clever humor, crude jokes, stoner gags and heart.

When you look at the franchise’s three biggest stars — John Cho, Kal Penn and Neil Patrick Harris — it becomes clearer why the movies work. All three of them have gone on to be successful in all manner of films and television shows, a testament to their acting ability. If they had been written and portrayed as shallow, obnoxious stoners, this Christmas special would’ve been direct-to-DVD and recast with no-name actors.

This third adventure takes place six years after “Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” and our dear friends have stopped talking to each other because Harold has grown up and Kumar has not. Their paths collide once more, however, when a package for Harold arrives at Kumar’s apartment. He courteously brings it to Harold’s new house, where they reconnect and discover it’s a giant joint, and they accidentally burn down Harold’s father-in-law’s (Danny Trejo) beloved Christmas tree.

The search to replace the Christmas tree before midnight mass is on, and it takes the duo and their replacement best friends Todd (Thomas Lennon) and Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) on less of a wild journey in terms of geography and general weirdness, but one with plenty of wacked-out sequences from claymation drug trips to NPH’s recollection of his time in heaven to an R-rated riff on a classic “A Christmas Story” gag.

With all the 3D pandering and psychedelic trips (every drug imaginable gets play time), “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” was meant to be experienced on the big screen (or a 3D LED set), but its meta jabs at the medium help ease the multitude of slow-motion shots that hurt the pacing of the movie when viewed in 2D.

As a fan of the series who is not a fan of the marijuana (in the using sense), several scenes remind the sober viewers we’re not high enough to watch this movie, but enough of the jokes are clever as opposed to simply balls-out. I’ve always found that the hallmark of the franchise is never that each installment is a laugh fest, but that it stays grounded while occasionally funnier than you’d guess it would be. This is of course thanks to Penn and Cho, whose chemistry continues to be the bread and butter of the series. That, and the reliably delightful appearance of Harris.

In spite of the many examples the film puts forward that give us an opportunity to shrug it off as immature and stupid, it finds ways of being charming. How you can find yourself rooting for a waffle-making robot not included in the film for any logical reason is testament to what Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have created.

 

3.5/5 Stars

 

 

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