A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas Review: An Xmas High

A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS (18): On General Release Friday 9th December

Christmas movies are a mixed bag.  The festive season brings out the best but more often the worst in cinematic efforts.  Occasionally though, a cracker comes along.  Harold & Kumar reunite for a third adventure and the result is surprisingly good – a frequently funny, irrepressibly irreverent romp which takes pots shots at everything from drug usage (naturally) to race relations while also being surprisingly sweet on the subject of friendship.

It’s been six years since bosom stoner chums Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have been together.  Harold is now a successful grown up who works in finance and has a hot Hispanic wife and grizzly father-in-law (Danny Trejo – of course).  He’s mostly lost touch with Kumar, who still spends most of his time stoned out of his box and mooching around their old apartment.

But when a mysterious package arrives at Kumar’s flat addressed to Harold, Kumar decides to visit and the two are promptly thrown together in an adventure which will see them traipse across New York in search of a new Christmas tree while escaping from a Russian mafia boss, trying to keep a baby off class-A narcotics and running away from a giant, evil claymated snowman.

It’s an admittedly ridiculous plot stuffed full of the expected swearing, boobs, tongue-in-cheek racial stereotyping, a criminally unsafe waffle-making robot and Scarface-levels of drug consumption. But crucially, it’s also consistently very funny.  And though it is extremely silly, Harold and Kumar react in plausible and realistic ways which ensures that they remain likable characters.   It’s also disarmingly smart and there are some wry jabs at everything from the new Karate Kid movie to John Cho’s Star Trek role.

The movie’s in 3D and that provides ample fodder for numerous visual jokes, as well as a hefty number about the limitations of the medium as well.  This is probably the most knowing and self-aware film of 2012 – it knows its audience and is quite happy to be self-deprecating in the name of comedy.

That’s the perfect set up for the appearance of Neil Patrick Harris, and though some of his creepy advances towards a backing singer are a little bit close to the bone, there’s an excellent skit which takes place in heaven and a score of great jokes at the expense of his career and personal life which ultimately defuse any lingering distaste.

The humour may be predictably ribald, featuring some nudity, a penis frozen to a pole, an infant on drugs and enough casual swearing to make Gunnery Sergeant Hartman gawk but underneath all that bombast and crudity there’s also a surprisingly touching message about the nature of friendship and growing older.

It might not be the family movie to watch this Christmas but it’s certainly an excellent alternative and for my money it’s the best Christmas movie of the year.

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