Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Sorry, it’s better.

Maybe I just have really strange tastes, but I keep liking movies when I shouldn’t, and I keep hating movies that I should enjoy. I’m backwards, man. Sure sure, I do love several films that everyone else does as well, but more often than not, I’m sticking up for the bullied movies. Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay for me felt like such a better and complete film. They both had the same exact format of telling jokes, but the overall goal was more concrete and the humor felt a lot more present this time. But hey…that’s just me.

This film begins seemingly the day after the first film. Remember Maria, Harold’s elevator dream girl from the first one? Well, she went off to Amsterdam, the pot capital of the world, and because Harold couldn’t wait 10 days for her to return, he and Kumar buy plane tickets right away. Kumar botches everything up on the plane because he brought a bong and wanted to smoke mid-flight…on the way to the pot capital of the world. They get caught and are thrown into Guantanamo Bay for being suspected of terrorism. So they escape from Guantanamo Bay and before they can even think about getting to Amsterdam, they need to stop by Kumar’s ex-girlfriend’s house to ask her fiancé to clear their names (he has political connections). Obviously, hilarity and mishaps ensue.

So according to the world, or at least a good-sized portion of it, people don’t really like this film, at least nowhere near as much as the first. This is a fact that irks me, because normally, I understand everyone’s opinion even if I have a different one. Now, I’m just confused, because I actually really enjoyed the movie, and thought that all around – it was better put together than the original. If I could guess why people didn’t like this as much is because it had less character development and maybe less jokes that were subtly satirical.

So did it have less character development? Yes, it did because the film takes place a day after the first one…which has all the character development that you really need, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have character depth. I complained that the first one had very little emotion from anyone on screen, and the whole side character of Kumar trying to stop his ex from marrying a douche had a lot of respectful emotion all around – definitely more than anything we saw from him in the first film.

What I probably understand the most is how the jokes remain in the same light as the first, but are a bit more meaningless. The first film was constantly satirical jokes dressed up as racist jokes. The whole idea of “how society views me, and how I view society” was a strong undertone of the first film…and while that existed here, it didn’t have as much of a variety. Most of it had to do with the flawed system of the government, how they are ignorant and what racial profiling really means most of the time. It means they are often close-minded – never meaning to ever listen to your side of the story.

The rest of the jokes seem random. How society views southern families as incestuous, for example. That was something that seemed overly random in the scheme of things, and made mostly just to have you laugh. Guess what, I don’t have a problem with trying to make someone laugh without a hidden agenda. So the rest of the jokes may be technically meaningless, they are still funny, and I actually laughed more here than I did on the first, so sue me.

I think a big part of why I liked the comedy this time around was because it was even more over-the-top. Think Forrest Gump. You know how he runs into some really important and historical places? Same thing here, just instead of historical, you got famous and infamous social circles that they run into. To me, it really felt like the plot finally fit perfectly.

Something I would have liked more was a more concrete plot. The first was so simple that it had a self-explanatory title. They go to White Castle…that’s it, that’s the plot. The title here was escaping from Guantanamo Bay, but guess what – they are there for probably five minutes before they escape. That wasn’t the main plot, guys. It was simply used because the main plot has nothing really special about it. They are going to Texas to get a political pardon…definitely not as strong of a plot.

The Good:
Once again, Kal Penn and John Cho have some of the best chemistry around, even if you don’t like the plot or jokes, watch it for them. As for me, I thought the jokes were fresher, the editing was clearer, and the ideas were stronger ones, and I enjoyed the thing much more than the first.

The Bad:
I do understand that some of the jokes just don’t make as much of an impact as the first film for others. For me, I thought it was downright hilarious, but I get it, it wasn’t as satirical, so it was a bit different. I also get the plot was a lot less memorable past Guantanamo Bay, I agree, I just don’t care as much, because I’m here for the laughs.

The Random:
A Nokia 770 is sometimes a device used in films to look cool, like a different-looking mini-tablet with (usually) high-tech futuristic modifications. It was used in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as a hacking device, and it was mentioned by name in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, saying that satellites are running a trace on it. Here’s some fun news, I owned one of these, and actually…I still have it around somewhere, and guess what…it sucks. It was one of the FIRST internet tablets around, and it did almost nothing but load mobile webpages as slow as dial-up internet. They use the thing in film now because it has a really neat design, but it just bugs me that they keep doing that. The thing had 64MB of memory…that’s nothing, boys and girls, nothing.

Memorable Quote:

Harold: He’s not a terrorist, he’s just an idiot.


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