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A Very Harold Kumar Christmas hits holiday high

by Ryan Mazie / Beacon Correspondent • November 10, 2011

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Jack Frost nipping on your nose, yuletide carols being sung by a choir, and joints being sparked over an open lighter?

Raunch and religion are always a tricky and controversial combination, but A Very Harold amp; Kumar 3D Christmas toys with Christmas flick conventions with ease and unexpected sweetness.

Replacing wreaths with reefer, emChristmas/em begins on Christmas Eve. In between this Harold and Kumar film and the last one, the titular marijuana-loving heroes have drifted apart. Harold (John Cho) is a married Wall Street whiz while Kumar (Kal Penn) is a sad, single slacker who flunked out of med school. However, the separation lasts shorter than the time it takes to smoke a doobie, once a mysterious, giant joint lands on Kumar’s doorstep addressed to Harold. Kumar is determined to rekindle their friendship over weed. Unfortunately, the only thing that gets kindled is Harold’s father-in-law’s (a vicious yet funny Danny Trejo) beloved Christmas tree.

Set off on a wild goose chase to retrieve a replica tree that involves gangsters, car crashes, Neil Patrick Harris, Claymation, a baby on cocaine, and a waffle making robot, Harold amp; Kumar 3 still manages to fit in plenty of Christmas cheer, and of course, pot.

Whereas the last Harold amp; Kumar felt like a haphazard combination of funny, but unrelated sketches, a running thread links this film’s bits together creating a stronger, more satisfying movie. But, if you are seeing a Harold amp; Kumar movie, the “plot structure” is of little concern. What do matter are the laughs. And the series’ writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have plenty of ammo left in their cracks about the funny smoke that’s shot off at a rapid fire speed.

Gross, gory, and ganja-related are the three “G” categories the humor falls under with each zing upping the next so tha,t by the end, the pissing contest of raunchiness almost turns into a literal pissing contest (that will fall under the “gross” category) – perfectly suited for 3D.

Making his feature film debut, director Todd Strauss-Schulson (an Emerson alum) does a great job of exploiting the zaniness of the situations, but pulls the characters back on track before the film derails into sketch comedy like the last installment.

Slipping right back into character, Cho and Penn build up an instant rapport, even though the series seems to spin in an endless circle of “lesson learned yet nothing changed” laziness. Strauss-Schulson uses the side characters (a dopey Amir Blumenfeld plays Kumar’s new roommate and Reno 911!’s Thomas Lennon adds a helpful serving of laughs as Harold’s best friend that acts whiter than the Christmas snow) to up the action ante.

But the real added lure for emA Very Harold amp; Kumar 3D Christmas/em is the extra dimension it is presented in. With everything from eggs to marijuana smoke to a burning Christmas tree to a certain male body part flying off the screen, the movie is certainly worth the extra admission (the film was shot in 3D). It will be interesting to see how well the film holds up on DVD in 2D format given the constant barrage of objects zooming towards the camera.

Showing signs of rejuvenation after Escape from Guantanamo Bay, emA Very Harold amp; Kumar 3D Christmas/em will certainly be a future Christmas classic – albeit one that you wouldn’t want to watch with the whole family. It’s yet to be seen if this generation’s Cheech amp; Chong have enough weed left in their bong to smoke out another four films, thereby matching their predecessors’ franchise count. But a Harold amp; Kumar 4th of July would be more than welcome.

ema href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/?p=3813951amp;preview=trueRead the Beacon's review with the director, Emerson grad Todd Strauss-Schulson, here./a/em