Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m late to this whole Harold & Kumar thing. Everyone told me I should see the original, but it seemed like a low priority to me. I’ve seen stoner comedies. I’ve seen comedies about one crazy night where everything seems to go wrong. I’ve seen Neil Patrick Harris. It seemed like the kind of thing I’d probably enjoy, but also that I’d probably have to catch on cable at some point. Then my roommates moved out, I de-prioritized my cable bill, and I gave up on ever seeing the danged thing. Or its sequel. And now, my uppance has come; for today I shall review A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, now on Blu-ray, without having seen any of the previous films.
That’s okay. I rather liked it anyway.
I’m a tough critic on comedies. I don’t seem to laugh as much as I used to. Come to think of it, candy doesn’t taste as sweet anymore, and two days ago I was really proud of myself for buying new trashcans. I guess I’m growing up. So is Harold, one half of the comedy duo that is Harold & Kumar, played by Star Trek co-star John Cho. He’s a successful Wall Street type who has given up on weed – and his friendship with longtime trouble magnet Kumar (Kal Penn) – in favor of a family life and an admittedly smoking hot wife. But he’s also got a rather ridiculous problem. His father in law (Machete’s Danny Trejo) is in town, and he’s got a bug up his ass about Christmas trees making or breaking the season. He brings his own damn fir from out of town just for the occasion, so when Kumar happens by and accidentally burns the sucker down, it sends these two yutzes on an adventure through New York City, caroming from one wacky vignette to the next.
There's not much to be said about A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. Its ambitions are reasonable, and it's produced with verve and gloss in equal measure. It's certainly the best-looking broad comedy to come down the chimney in recent memory. And on the whole, it’s a very funny flick, but as with any movie in this freewheeling genre it has hits and misses. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is at its best when it goes completely nuts, with lesbian nun shower scenes, ultraviolent Claymation giant snowman adventures and constant, overt references to its 3D gimmickry. But without a more conventional storyline about friendship, family and yadda-yadda to contrast with, those wacky highlights wouldn’t have been random enough to achieve maximum hilarity. This is the price we pay.
And for the price you pay, for the Blu-ray at any rate, you get a gorgeous transfer (no excuse for anything less, for a new release anyway) and a surprisingly thin assortment of special features, especially for a film with this broad a fan base. There are a trio of deleted scenes – two of which appear to be alternate, less funny versions of existing scenes, although the closing stinger is pretty sweet – and a trio of puff pieces with Thomas Lennon, who is funny but has little to work with. The final supplement is a simple storyboard-to-film BTS for the Claymation sequence. For once I actually wanted one of these features to be longer, and actually include some behind the scenes footage of the stop-motion animation process (assuming they actually used one, and didn’t fake it with CGI). The Blu-ray also includes an extended cut of the film, which I watched in favor of the theatrical one. Unlike many extended cuts, it seems to suffer no pacing problems from awkwardly reintegrated footage. It seems to hold up on its own.
Fans of the previous Harold & Kumar movies don’t need me to tell them if A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is any good, although I’d certainly like them to tell me if it holds up to the rest of the films in the franchise. It’s a funny, memorable romp through metafictional sequel land, and a pleasingly Christmasy grossout film to boot. Now, to rent the other ones…
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas: