When I thought I was going to the movies by myself, I waffled for a while and finally settled on In Time, which came out last week but had a cool updated Logan’s Run vibe. Then my friend invited me to see A very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (longest title ever) with her, so I went along with it. After all, Harold and Kumar is newer. The trailer doesn’t give you a lot to go on, but if you dig deep down, there actually is a plot:
Former stoner turned business man Harold’s quest to create a perfect Christmas for his over-critical father in law provides the impetus for hooking up with his former best friend and current stoner Kumar for another drug-fuelled adventure.
I had never seen a Harold and Kumar film before (there are at two others), so I was coming into it fresh. I wasn’t expecting to like A Very Long Title Involving Harold and Kumar very much, seeing as how it’s a stoner comedy and I view drug use as only slightly funnier than animal cruelty (i.e. not), but I was surprised to find evidence of actual intelligence in this movie (you have to have SEEN Platoon and Trainspotting before you can parody them) so despite the crudity, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. In fact, I kind of liked it.
Before we get started, however, let me say that this is an extremely inappropriate movie. Your teenage and pre-teen sons will ask you to let them go to it, and your answer should be “over my dead body.” Here are just a few of the things it will expose your impressionable youths to: offensive language, penises, boobs, racism, underage drinking, driving under the influence, the punching of archbishops, giving cocaine to babies, and marijuana use by Santa Claus.
Way to retroactively ruin my childhood, movie.
Teenage and pre-teen boys are just dumb enough to believe that exposing a toddler to marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy in a single night would be funny rather than death inducing, so be especially careful if your teen ever baby-sits younger siblings. I don’t object to the baby drug use in the film per se (I know, I know: what’s wrong with me?) but for one thing it’s accidental, and for another, the baby is really really creepy.
When it laughs, my skin crawls. It’s like Children of the Corn
Anyway – plot! As I said, there is one. According to the blurbs it’s been several years since Harold Lee (John Cho) and Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) were stoner roomies who had crazy adventures together. Harold is now married and works in some sort of financial office and Kumar still lives in the old apartment, smoking weed and not doing anything productive. Harold’s Korean-hating Hispanic in-laws are coming for Christmas, and he intends to make it a perfect holiday so they’ll like him.
And by like him, I mean not murder him and stuff his body under the floor.
He promises to decorate the special one-of-a-kind 12 foot Christmas tree his father in law (Danny Trejo) had grown especially for the holiday while the family is at midnight mass, but then Kumar stops by with an enormous joint that someone mailed to Harold via their old apartment and the tree accidentally gets burned down.
See, kids? This is why you shouldn’t smoke.
With the tree gone, they have mere hours to find and decorate a replacement before the family comes home and their hatred of Harold is cemented forever (see? plot.) Harold and Kumar’s “new” best friends are also along for the ride, as they’re the ones with the vehicles. Harold’s new friend is Todd (Thomas Lennon), whose baby it is they manage to get high as a kite during the course of the evening, and Kumar’s new friend is Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) an annoying douchebag whose mission it is to deflower a high schooler at a party.
They spend at least half the movie hiding in a closet covered in cocaine.
During their quest for a tree, Harold and Kumar crash cars, play beer pong, cause a cocaine explosion, crash a party filled with teenagers, get drugged, run afoul of the Russian mafia, get chased by a giant evil claymation snowman, dance in a stage show with Neil Patrick Harris, nearly get burned at the stake, adopt a waffle making robot, and shoot Santa Claus right out of the sky. The waffle robot was my favorite part.
WAFFLE BOT (in robotic voice): They serve pancakes in hell!
Now, it may seem like all of these incidents make for a really episodic plot with thin, tenuous links between segments, kind of like a sketch comedy show, but the weird thing is: it actually works! Their logic is completely bonkers, to be sure, but everything follows cause and effect. The thinnest link is between the Neil Patrick Harris bits and the rest of the plot, but this is because Neil Patrick Harris (or NPH) is afforded almost god-like status in the film, which I guess accounts for the deus ex machina (not that it gets them out of anything).
NPH has got to be the best sport in Hollywood. He seems to be game for anything.
So I did end up laughing, and I didn’t end up writing five pages of scornful notes on all the mistakes they made with the screenplay, which means it must be pretty good. I would rather it had been a tiny bit closer to Christmas (like… a month closer) and I would rather it hadn’t cost three extra dollars to see in pointless 3D (though they do make fun of 3D and make maximum use of its gimmickyness) but I can’t say I regret seeing it. I may even look up the other films in the series. That’s how not bad it was.