On the all-time stoner comedy list, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas doesn’t sniff any of the classics—Up In Smoke and Half Baked are safe—nor does it approach the charm of its White Castle predecessor; however, no one’s going to argue that this movie isn’t a good time. And, by pulling the trick that so many marginally enjoyable movies have lately—appearing in 3D—it’s probably worth going to the theatre to watch.
This movie opens six years after the events of Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. In the interim, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have grown apart and found new best friends. The differences in their lifestyles and personalities have grown too: Harold has a large house, while Kumar lives in a tiny, squalid apartment; Harold is more uptight than ever, whereas Kumar has let himself go almost completely to seed. The two are reunited when Harold’s father-in-law’s Christmas tree burns down and they go on a quest to replace it.
The plot is weak, but the Harold and Kumar series has never been about plot, or even pot for that matter. It’s about the incredible chemistry and general likeability of the two stars, Cho and Penn. Everything else is just window dressing. Unfortunately, the film forgets this, as the two don’t share enough screen time. Given the high-profile names in the supporting cast, giving side characters opportunity to develop makes sense on paper, but not in practice.
Amir Blumenfeld of CollegeHumor’s Prank War fame does his usual shtick (if you liked him on CollegeHumor, you’ll like him here, and the opposite) as Kumar’s nerdy, internet-romancing, pot-smoking replacement best friend. Thomas Lennon fills the same void for Harold, and his anal-retentive routine is at times funny, at others grating.
The presence of these two new characters, however, represents my biggest problem with the script. The most unbelievable part of the story wasn’t when Harold shot Santa, nor was it when a drugged-up baby crawled on the ceiling—it was when I was informed, at the beginning of the film, that Harold and Kumar weren’t friends anymore. It was ludicrous. The level of friendly chemistry they’ve displayed over the years sets the industry standard in the same way Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’ romantic chemistry in The Notebook does.
Luckily, they’re reunited pretty quickly, but the audience is forced to wait longer for the return of Neil Patrick Harris, who comes in on a song and dance number, showcasing his musical theatre talents before making his usual raunchy contributions to the film. If he doesn’t steal his scenes quite as adroitly as he did in White Castle, that’s probably only because we’ve seen this act more than a few times now, and there aren’t too many places left to go with it.
A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas is exactly what you would expect. It’s not great, but it’s fun, and just as forgettable as an afternoon spent smoking pot.