A New High for Christmas Flicks

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

In the past decade, Christmas movies have really lost their muster. They have succumbed to mediocrity and extremely repetitive clichés. So, we’ve all been wondering who will bring back the magic that’s been missing for this fledgling genre. Fortunately, our heroes have arrived, and they are America’s favorite stoner buddy comedy duo Harold and Kumar.

Set several years after the events from “Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” the best friends have since separated from one another to follow through with their own lives. Harold (John Cho) is now a successful New York City businessman and happily married to Maria (Paula Garcés). Kumar (Kal Penn), on the other hand, is continuing to abide by his slacker lifestyle of smoking weed and doing nothing more than that with his life.

However, a series of mishaps bring the two back together when they destroy Harold’s father-in-law’s prized family Christmas tree, and they both go on a madcap adventure throughout New York City to find a replacement.

The “Harold & Kumar” trilogy is a series that you either love or hate, depending on your taste in R-rated raunchy comedies. “White Castle” was hilarious for not only the ridiculous situations the duo goes through, but also being one of the very few politically correct raunchy comedies out there.

“Escape from Guantanamo Bay” though was a step down for series as it was less funny than the predecessor by going more for a grosser shock effect than being clever. However, “3D Christmas” brings the series back to the hilarious level of the first film in the best way possible.

Likewise to the first two films, John Cho and Kal Penn have electric chemistry with each other as Harold and Kumar. They’re both such likeable actors and banter with each other in hilarious fashion because of their characters’ differing traits. In addition, it’s engaging how they’re both smart actors that have perfect comedic timing for the dumbest types of humor. That kind of timing also prevents these movies from entirely depending on gross-out humor. They may have aged a little bit and grown apart since the series’ inception, but that aspect is actually satirized several times, especially Kal Penn’s former occupation in the White House which forced him into a semi-retirement from acting.

However, there is always one actor that outshines this infamous duo, and it’s Neil Patrick Harris as, well, Neil Patrick Harris. There is no way to resist the perversely funny way he plays this incorrect version of himself in this film, and the clever way in which the film pokes at the media questioning his sexuality is comedic gold. His extended cameo may only last for 10 to 15 minutes in this film, but it’s destined to be one of the funniest scenes out of all the comedies released this year.

Out of all the new characters in this sequel, my favorites had to be Danny Trejo as Harold’s father-in-law, and Thomas Lennon as Harold’s friend Todd. Trejo is one of the greatest character actors of all-time, and while his role is limited, he plays the intimidating father-in-law to role to perfection, and his physical image enhances the part to a greater degree. Lennon, on the other hand, gets to play the uptight father-in-law in which his performance reminded me a lot of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s” Charlie Day, mostly due to the out of control fast line delivery.

The best part about this film is that it’s totally self-aware of what it’s trying to be. It knows that it wants to be rude, crude and offensive, and the ridiculous situations the characters get into further embraces the aspect even more. It’s a movie that is never meant to be taken seriously, so it’s never afraid to break the rules of comedy and Christmas traditions in the most ridiculous ways.

3-D is a gimmick I have grown to resent ever since last year when post-conversion ran rampant throughout many Hollywood pictures, but this film uses 3-D in the best way I have seen since “Avatar.” The “stuff-comes-right-at-you” gimmick is what 3-D was originally meant to be, and this film embraces it in the most inventive ways, from pot smoke floating towards you to the most random objects flying right at you. The filmmakers also take their time to poke at the evolution of 3-D and how it’s become a tiresome fad since it was revamped with “Avatar,” and it makes up for some of the most clever jokes.

If you’re someone who is easily offended, then this movie is definitely not up your alley. Every stereotype you can think of, from just about every single ethnicity there is, is almost constantly present, in addition to almost every evangelical Christian moral in regard to Christmas being broken. And if that’s not enough to rile you up, how about a baby getting high on pot, cocaine and ecstasy getting thrown into the mix?

Overall, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” was, without a doubt, the funniest comedy I have seen this year. Featuring terrific chemistry between its lead stars in addition to its sharp, self-aware satire on 3-D, racial stereotypes and Christmas traditions, this film not only puts the “H&K” franchise to new highs, but also solidifies its status as a future Christmas cult classic in the making.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5