The stoner comedy reached new (ahem) highs with Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle in 2004. A throwaway farce brave enough to feature a pair of minority leads and a (then) has-been child star named Neil Patrick Harris, it quickly became an unlikely cult hit. Fast forward sevenyears and one half-baked sequel later: The duo are back for a Christmas themed sequel in ubiqitous 3-D that reignites the bromance between its two leads.
The story finds Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) having drifted apart and not spoken in years. Harold has become a successful but buttoned-down Wall street broker; Kumar has been kicked out of med school after failing a drug test and learned that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant with his lovechild.
Fate thrusts the two together on Christmas Eve when the prized tree belonging to Harold’s father-in-law (Danny Trejo) goes up in smoke. They’re on another disastrous late-night odyssey that includes a bad trip masquerading Claymation, varying degrees of nudity, Ukrainian mobsters, and epic drug use involving (at various times) a toddler, a lecherous Neil Patrick Harris, and Santa Claus. White Christmas it ain’t, unless you count the cocaine jokes.
The current use of 3-D in action movies has proven to be an obnoxious distraction more than anything else, and director Todd Strauss-Schulson is savvy enough to exploit such aesthetic overkill to comedic effect, with Harold declaring within the first five minutes that the “whole 3-D thing has jumped the shark” before everything from smoke rings and food to NPH to parts of the anatomy that we won’t specify (nobody likes spoilers, after all) wind up rocketing from the screen into our faces. It’s pretension-free excess that makes the decidely trashy format fun for a change.
The movie is aimed almost solely at fans of the series, with plenty of cameo appearances, references, and inside jokes that will be lost on the uninitated. It is also, thankfully, neither a sacchirine paean to the joys of the holidays or another overblown send-up of holiday madness. Instead it’s content to stick with what the series does best: generate low-brow laughs while unapologetically barbecuing sacred cows.