It's been six long years since stoner pals Harold Lee (Cho) and Kumar Patel (Penn) got into trouble at Guantanamo Bay. These days, a successful Harold has mostly lost contact with slacker Kumar. It would take a miracle to bring them back together. Thank goodness, then, that it's Christmas in New York...
But while the story remains resolutely ridiculous, it’s also funny — and in 3D this time. The numerous digs at the format feel like genuine complaints we’ve all had, and the movie itself (shot in proper, not post-converted 3D) uses the technology to both comic and actual effect. Sure, there are lots of scenes where everything from snowballs to magic dust flies at the screen, or Neil Patrick Harris pokes us with his candy cane (steady), but it all seems apt for what is an attempt at a Proper Christmas Movie.
Yes, it’s even got some heart beating underneath all the Santa-shooting, crazed waffle-making robots, penis-frozen-to-pole and stoner humour. A claymation segment works well, and there’s also a pleasantly smart side to all the stupid giggles as both Harold and Kumar react realistically to most of the situations they’re presented with. Plus, every festive flick needs a little reconciliation, and veteran writers Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz understand that we need to care about these guys in order to enjoy everything else.
And though the requisite Harris appearance slips into slightly less charmingly comic territory than usual when he puts the sinister moves on a chorus girl, that’s easily balanced by a trip to heaven and the now-trademark jabs at his career and personal life. Oh, and he’s addicted to crack cocaine now, for those keeping score of his scores. But while he pops in for the standard cameo, there’s also some fine support for the leads, with Tom Lennon as Harold’s replacement Kumar and newcomer Amir Blumenfeld filling in as the Harold substitute. Dragged into the boys’ mad misadventures, Lennon in particular works well as the nerdy Todd, endlessly outraged at how many narcotics his little daughter is exposed to. Your enjoyment of that particular wrinkle will likely depend on your tolerance for baby-on-drugs gags, though.
This never reaches the heights of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer or The Snowman in terms of classic seasonal fare. But there are a lot of laughs lurking within the shiny 3D wrapping and snow-covered silliness.
Reviewed by James White