MOVIE REVIEW: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
The latest installment in the Harold & Kumar franchise is stupid, offensive, obscene, and meaningless but not in a good way. Shock value and attempts at gross out comedy replace real humor, creating a thoroughly unfunny movie.
Years after their last adventure (which is never really referenced), Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are estranged. Harold has married Maria, climbed the corporate ladder, and moved to the ‘burbs, while Kumar got dumped by Vanessa and kicked out of med school, sending him into the depths of stoner slackerdom. But when they reunite on Christmas Eve and accidentally burn down Maria’s father’s prized Christmas tree, they set out to find a new one, and instead encounter druggy tweens, Ukranian mobsters, and of course, Neil Patrick Harris (Neil Patrick Harris).
The non-stop parade of gimmicks (3D, car crashes, gun battles, musical numbers, claymation, new friends, Jesus, a drug-addled toddler) is deadening and, once the setups are made, predictable. It drowns out almost any chance for the awkward, spontaneous, well-timed laughs of Cho and Penn’s buddy schtick. Is it a good sign that one of the few human, inspiring moments of the film comes courtesy of a waffle-making robot?
I thought Neil Patrick Harris’ misogyny in the film illustrated crossing the line from shock humor to offensive and unsettling. (And yes, I know he’s gay in real life and his character is ironic, but still.) Here’s my scale based on his appearances in the franchise: NPH snorting cocaine off a stripper in a speeding car’s moon roof=hilarious; NPH scarring a Texan hooker with a hot branding iron=wrong, but still absurd enough to be unrealistic and funny; NPH trying to rape a woman in his dressing room=just wrong. Where was the joke there?
Did you see the movie? What did you think?