It’s been six years since the last Harold and Kumar movie, “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” and the third movie, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” openly acknowledges this gap. Unlike the second movie, whose plot picked up about 60 seconds after the first movie dropped off, the latest shows us how our boys’ lives turned out several years later. Shockingly, in this clearly dystopian future, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are no longer best friends. They haven’t even seen each other in the past year, and their divergence has polarized their differences: Harold has become a successful, married homeowner, while Kumar has regressed into a reeking, unshaven deadbeat. Of course, the movie follows the duo as they reconnect and reignite the spark, because no amount of time can break the bonds of America’s favorite bromance.
It is, predictably, this bromance that carries the entire movie. Even when they’re not being charming, Harold and Kumar’s insanely believable chemistry charms the socks off of the most cantankerous of movie patrons. Some other characters, however, were less appealing: after their bro-breakup, Harold and Kumar found replacement best pals, an intentionally unlikeable couple of characters that take the whole “unlikeable” bit too far.
Harold’s new friend, Todd (Tom Lennon), is a harmless white-bread father, lame enough to abbreviate “screw you” to “S U.” Kumar’s neighbor Adrian (played by Amir Blumenfeld, who essentially plays a louder version of his character on his CollegeHumor show) is a wildly abrasive, classic college douchebag. Scenes with these two are consistently the lowest points of the entire movie.
These were balanced by some small but clever details that made the whole thing worth it: decisions in wardrobe (at one point Kumar’s shirt reads “My Parents Went to Hawaii and All I Got Was Molested By My Neighbors”) and a moment in which Kumar scoffs at a character who claims to work for the White House (Penn is, of course, on Obama’s staff as Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.)
Of course, because this is a Harold & Kumar movie, there are moments that push further than anyone would expect. The film parodies that classic scene from “A Christmas Carol” in which a character gets his tongue stuck to an iced-over telephone pole–except it’s not a tongue that gets cemented to the cold metal, it’s a penis. And yes, you get to see it. The audience gave a collective groan/gasp of horror as the tasteful camera angle cut away to a very close zoom into the sad little member itself, pink and alone in the cold. In hindsight, I don’t know why we were surprised.
For the most part, though, the movie managed to stay grounded in its obvious good intentions. It helped that most of the jokes were genuinely funny and occasionally laugh-out-loud hilarious. Those who enjoyed the previous two movies will thoroughly appreciate this one, and while I would never advocate the use of illicit substances, I will go ahead and observe that the movie could, potentially, be even funnier if one emulated the lifestyles of the protagonists. I’m just saying.