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Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 05:40 am

Harold and Kumar 3 a ribald Christmas gift

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You know what you’re getting where a Harold and Kumar movie is concerned. There’ll be drug jokes, sex gags, gratuitous nudity, Neil Patrick Harris lampooning his image and undeniable chemistry between the series’ two stars, John Cho and Kal Penn. Obviously, these films are pitched towards teens and young adults, who salvaged these characters from obscurity by making the first film a retroactive hit in the home video market.

Yet despite the films’ base elements, there has been an interesting subtext in each entry. The duo’s meandering trip to White Castle in the first movie contained some sharp commentary on race, while the second film skewered the government and the paranoia fostered during the War on Terror, as they had to contend with being mistaken for terrorists. In their latest adventure, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, potshots are taken at the commercialization of the holiday season as well as the 3D trend itself. (Ironically, some of the best 3D effects I’ve seen are on display.)

The film’s scattershot plot is as overstuffed as Santa after a stop at an all-you-can-eat beef bar as the guys contend with Ukrainian mobsters, a desperate virgin, a perpetually high toddler, an irate father-in-law and Santa himself. Ironically, all of these characters are encountered as our heroes search for a very particular Douglas fir on Christmas Eve.

Director Todd Strauss-Schulson keeps things moving at a quick pace, which is essential for this sort of vehicle. He knows his audience wants ribald gags delivered rapidly, and on that count he doesn’t disappoint. But the movie’s far more clever than you’d expect and the chemistry between Cho and Penn helps sell some potentially lame gags. And besides, any film that features a robot whose sole function is to make and deliver waffles can only be called “visionary.”

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.


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