A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas Review
Following hot on the heels of the delightful Arthur Christmas comes the gloriously filthy and un-PC A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. Picking up six years after we witnessed our favourite stoners escape from Guatanamo Bay, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have drifted apart; the former is now a successful Wall Street executive married to Maria (Paula Garces), while the latter has dropped out of medical school and is content to remain a stoner. A short reunion leads to Harold’s father-in-law’s Christmas tree going up in flames, so Harold and Kumar set off in search of a replacement through New York City, delivering a sackful of belly laughs, shot through with a real heart, along the way to provide a winning adult alternative for the upcoming holiday season.
It’s a reviewing cop-out to say that if you’ve liked the previous ones, you’ll love this one, but never has it been truer than with this threequel. Not straying from the formula that served them so well over the first two films, the real focus of the film is the two eponymous characters and the fact that we believe – and invest – in their friendship, thanks to great performances from Cho and Penn, is vital to the film’s success. It means we go along with the increasingly bizarre, nonsensical situations they find themselves in – including a run-in with Santa this time around via a stray shotgun blast – and revel in them. It also helps that no matter how un-PC it gets (and, trust us, the easily offended should steer well clear), it’s never done with a malicious streak, something which The Hangover Part II fell foul of, so a drug-fuelled baby remains funny as does a beer pong-off with bratty teenagers.
Combined with this brand of comedy, there’s both a brilliant use of 3D as well as a smart ribbing of the format, with various asides and visual fourth-wall breaking gags. It’s among some of the best 3D we’ve seen and alongside the far from subtle moments (various objects protruding the screen include a plasticine giant penis, smoke rings and a winking baby Jesus), there is also some highly effective, sharp use of 3D within the screen as well when the characters watch a 3D TV. The overall gimmicky use of 3D all adds to the OTT charm of the entire film and when you can sprinkle another inspired, self-mocking cameo from Neil Patrick Harris as his death-defying alter ego NPH (including a wonderful musical number) on top, you really have an irresistible recipe for anyone who wants a thoroughly entertaining film that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
In truth, we could have done without the introduction of Todd (Tom Lennon) and Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld), the new best friends Harold and Kumar have made in each other’s absence, but thankfully they’re relegated to infrequent scenes about halfway in. It’s a minor niggle though in a movie that despite numerous nods to the previous two – an inspired plasticine sequence ends with a scene with our duo meeting up with two welcome returning characters and going to a place that’ll bring an instant smile to fans – can also be enjoyed by newcomers as it is, at its heart, a surprisingly festive treat about the power of friendship that will lift anyone’s spirit. Well that and it answers the age-old question, just what would happen to a penis that comes into contact with an ice-cold metal pole?