They went to White Castle and rebooted Doogie Howser's film and television career. They escaped Guantanamo Bay and smoked pot with President George W. Bush. And now Harold & Kumar are back in an all new Christmas adventure. The plot almost doesn't matter for these movies, because it's all just an excuse to spew profanity, make drug references, and throw in as much nudity as possible.
We pick up a few years after the last film; Harold and Kumar are no longer best friends. Harold and Maria are married and Harold has a successful Wall Street career. He's grown up, and even has a new adult friend in the form of his whipped neighbor, Todd (Tom Lennon of 'Reno 911'). But Harold is nervous about Maria's father, Mr. Perez (the ever badass, Danny Trejo) coming to visit for the Christmas holiday. It seems Mr. Perez loves Christmas, and specifically Christmas Trees, because his immigrant mother was brutally murdered (by Korean thugs!) before she could buy them their first American Christmas Tree.
Kumar, meanwhile, hasn't changed at all. Smoking pot has consumed his life to the point where he lost his girlfriend, Vanessa (Danneel Ackles) and his medical license, and his only friend is the annoying guy from across the hall, Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld of College Humor).
When a mysterious package for Harold arrives on Kumar's doorstep, the two friends are thrown back together. Shortly thereafter, Kumar accidentally burns down Mr. Perez's rare Christmas Tree with a magical joint. After a car accident destroys the replacement tree, Harold, Kumar, Adrian, Todd, and Todd's baby daughter, travel into New York City on an adventure that includes beer pong, a baby on drugs, a murderous Ukrainian gangster and his wannabe-slut daughter, a Claymation hallucination, and visits from previous cast members, including a hilarious Neil Patrick Harris musical number. It sounds bizarre, but the simple plot allows the filmmakers and cast to build a number of really funny set pieces.
If you loved the first two movies, or love smartly timed, but crude and sometimes blasphemous humor, then you'll love 'A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas'. My wife and I love "stupid humor" and Christmas, so this is a home run for our tastes. We saw the film theatrically, in 3D, and laughed our asses off, and seeing the film again it's just as funny as the first time. At least for us. If cussing and the notion of a fictional baby on drugs doesn't make you at least crack smile, this one might not be for you.
For my two pennies, the 'Harold & Kumar' franchise succeeds because they manage to build their heightened, implausible stories around real friendship dynamics. Not only are the film's well written (the actual screenplays are LOL-funny, which is rare), Harold and Kumar are unlikely Hollywood heroes, which makes the experience feel fresh. They're also damn likeable and, in a way, relatable. Their journeys are always nonsensical rides, but that's what makes them so much fun. How silly and shocking will they get this time? There's also some biting satire snuck in for good measure, though that's not really the film's main focus.
In terms of the 3D vs. 2D and Extended Cut vs. Theatrical Cut, this film was shot with the intention of being seen in 3D. Just about every scene features an in-your-face-look-we're-doing-3D gag, which worked wonderfully in the cinema. It's still funny here if you know what they were going for, but I doubt it will work as well for those watching it in 2D for the first time. Also, I would say the Extended Cut is pretty much the same movie as the Theatrical Version. Some movies actually get funnier, like 'Step Brothers', but most of the extra material here is in the setup with a few payoffs or slightly elongated moments later. The new scenes were fine but, for me, there isn't enough awesome new material to warrant watching the film without its lossless, high definition surround soundtrack.
Wait, no HD surround sound track on the Extended Cut?
Yes, find out more below:
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner Home Video brings 'A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas' to Blu-ray as a two-disc package. The first is a flipper disc, where one side is a Region Free, BD50 and the other a DVD-9. The third is also a BD50 disc containing only the 3D version of the movie in its rated theatrical form. The unrated extended cut is only available on the 2D Blu-ray. There are also instructions for obtaining the UltraViolet Digital Copy. The package includes a lenticular slipcover over the normal blue keepcase. At startup, viewers can skip a couple of 2D trailers before seeing a 3D main menu still with music.
Never before has the search for a 12-foot Douglas Fir Christmas tree been this much fun, and it's pretty much all thanks to the way the movie was shot. With the use of 3D technology every step of the way, 'A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas' conjures up every possible gag and camera trick imaginable, including one scene where a giant, "claymation" penis swings across the screen. Making the effect even grosser, as well as more hilarious, the 1080p/MVC MPEG-4 encode (2.40:1) offers a razor-sharp presentation, where viewers can make out all the disgusting details. Whether the best buds are running through the streets of New York or chilling in suburbia, fine lines are distinct and small objects in the background are perfectly visible. Textures on clothing, around various trees and the faces of actors are lifelike.
Being a comedy set around the holidays, colors are understandably vivid and energetic. Reds and greens especially — the primaries commonly on display during the festive season — take precedence with rich saturation, giving the movie a fun animated appeal. Secondary hues also participate in spreading the cheer with a warm, bold appeal. The clay-animation sequence comes with a slightly exaggerated palette, but it appears intentional as it only adds to the laughs. The rest of the picture shows a bright and crisp contrast level, that only compensates for the darken glasses but also gives the stoner comedy a dramatic pop. Except for one minor scene where the luster fades just a tad, blacks are very inky and penetrating with excellent shadow details, providing the image with an attractive cinematic quality that really shines throughout.
Topping it all off, 'Harold & Kumar' crash into the third dimension like they really mean business. Filmed on HD cameras with the new 3D capture and rigs by Panavision, the filmmakers make the very best use of the new toys by having many of the jokes related to the technology. And why not? If you've got it, flaunt it. From the very beginning, a simple conversation about 3D soon moves into a scene with eggs hurling straight at the audience, crashing on surfaces as the white and yolk spread all over the screen. Other gags feature confetti exploding in viewer's faces and each colorful, glossy string flies in the air. Dimensionality and depth is not only consistent from beginning to end, but background object genuinely seem to move independently of the foreground. It's really just one silly 3D gimmick after another, but they're intentional gags with several reach-out-and-touch-it moments and with objects almost appear to leap off the screen.
Ultimately, whatever one's opinion of the movie is, it almost doesn't matter because this is really fun way of showing off what 3D Blu-ray can do.
On the audio front, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack doesn't quite match the fun and hilarity of the video. It's still a great track, however, with a great deal of activity in the rears. The musical score, especially, extends into the surrounds, nicely enhancing the soundfield and spreading the Christmas joy. A few of the action sequences also come with clear discrete effects and good panning, but they're not always convincing. Instead, the lossless mix does it best work in the fronts where dynamic range is quite extensive and crystal-clear, broadening the soundstage with clarity and terrific imaging. The low-end is decently deep, but aside from one surprisingly punchy moment with a shotgun, bass never really reaches the lower depths. The center channel delivers clean and precise vocals, allowing every joke uttered to be perfectly heard.
It's a great and entertaining high-rez track overall, but it doesn't compare to the 3D amusement of the video. Honestly, the filmmakers should have exaggerated the design so as to equal the fun of the 3D gimmicks.
Special features are the same found on the 2D version of the movie.
'A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas' is a surprisingly funny stoner comedy that makes the very best use of the 3D technology to enhance the humor. Despite featuring a holiday theme, the two buds find themselves in a third misadventure that's just as raunchy as the previous two movies. Considering the amount of jokes related to 3D gimmicks and gags, it's difficult to imagine watching the movie any other way. And thankfully, the 3D Blu-ray arrives with one of the best presentations of the format although the unrated cut would have been to have as well. The audio isn't quite up to par with the video, but it's still a great and entertaining listen. Supplements are the same as the 2D Blu-ray version, but the 3D package makes the better overall purchase simply for the video.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.