By Charly SHELTON
Way back in 2004, a couple of bumbling but lovable stoners got the munchies. They headed over to White Castle for some burgers and hilarity ensued. Then in 2008, they were back for more comic high-jinx and had to escape from Guantanamo Bay. Now in 2011, we can spend the Christmas season with Harold and Kumar in their third stoner-buddy-movie, “A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.”
Despite their friendship of the last seven years, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have grown apart. Harold grew up and stopped smoking pot. He bought a house in the suburbs and works a 9-to-5 job at a firm in the city. His life is the epicenter of boring complacency. Kumar, on the other hand, has been smoking Harold’s share of the weed as well as his own, and was recently dumped by his pregnant girlfriend. His life is not as well put together as he would have hoped. But then one magical Christmas Eve, a package arrives at Kumar’s apartment addressed to Harold. They haven’t spoken in years, so taking the package over to Harold’s house was sure to be awkward.
Harold, meanwhile, is under the thumb of his father-in-law who never accepted Harold as part of the family. Harold’s one shot at impressing his father-in-law lies with the traditional Christmas tree. It has to be perfectly decorated by 2 a.m. for when the family returns from midnight mass. But Kumar’s visit throws a wrench in the works as he accidentally burns down the tree. The race is on to find an acceptable Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, before the family gets home. But with Russian gangster warlords, Claymation drugs, a cast of characters to make the season right, and of course, Neil Patrick Harris, this holiday film is going to be a classic for Harold and Kumar fan.
First off, Neil Patrick Harris is a God of Awesomeness. In everything he does, whether it be “How I Met Your Mother,” or anything on stage, or even the five minute cameo he makes in this film, he brings a presence that few actors can match. He is the Jedi Master of Cool for guys across the world. Seeing his short but hilarious scene in this film is worth the price of admission. On top of that, John Cho and Kal Penn have really grown as actors since they smoked their first joint together in 2004. To go back and watch “White Castle” is to see the actors before they really hit their stride in these characters. This third film in the series really opens up new doors for Cho and Penn as actors and it does show. Rather than being one-dimensional stoners like so many of the characters from this genre are(i.e. Ashton Kutcher and Sean William-Scott in ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’), these two have developed real personalities and character arcs to learn and grow through the film. This is a really fun buddy movie that is more about the friendship between the two guys, rather than about the weed that brought them together initially. Definitely not one to be missed. Rated R for HEAVY drug use, sexuality, violence and crude humor. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars.