out of Five
Running time: 90
Enjoyable, occasionally inventive and frequently funny stoner comedy threequel that succeeds thanks to a witty script, loveable characters and winning performances from its two leads.
What's it all about?
Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is the third adventure in the popular stoner comedy franchise and is set a few years after the events of the 2008 sequel. While recently dumped Kumar (Kal Penn) is reeling from the news that his ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Ackles) is pregnant, happily married Harold (John Cho) has his hands full dealing with his wife Maria's (Paula Garces) extended family - including her scary Latino father Carlos (Danny Trejo – who else?) - who have descended for Christmas.
However, when Kumar accidentally sets fire to Harold's father-in-law's beloved Christmas tree, the pair have to find an emergency replacement so they head for New York, accompanied by Harold's friend Todd (Tom Lennon), Todd's baby Ava and Kumar's nerdy neighbour Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld), who's heading for an internet hook-up with the daughter (Jordan Hinson) of a vicious gangster (Elias Koteas). Soon the hapless friends are involved in all manner of festive scrapes and also bumping into a few old friends (Neil Patrick Harris as Neil Patrick Harris) along the way.
The chief pleasures of the Harold & Kumar movies are the extremely engaging central friendship and the pitch-perfect performances from Penn and Cho. Needless to say, they're both on terrific comic form here and there's strong support from Lennon, Blumenfeld, “NPH” and a brilliantly cast Trejo.
The witty script is packed full of great lines, as well as a series of clever in-jokes (such as a line about Kumar working in the White House – Penn's real-life other job) and some surprisingly subtle gags, such as the fact that their Jewish friends from the previous movies (Eddie Kaye Thomas and Danny Krumholtz) now behave like bickering old Jewish men. Similarly, the 3D is used in brilliantly imaginative (and
disgusting) ways and there's an inspired claymation sequence that is worth the price of admission alone.
It's fair to say that not all the jokes work (the drug-addled baby isn't as funny as the film thinks it is) but the film is nicely paced and its sheer charm ultimately carries it through.
A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas isn't as good as the first film but it's a lot funnier than the 2008 sequel and you definitely want to see them back for a fourth instalment. Recommended.
A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (18)