A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Just enjoy it.

Here we are again. Just like so many other series before it, Harold & Kumar finally rest upon their last film, which so happens to be the film that has completely lost track of its original satirical intent. That must mean we as an audience must now yell and scream obscene remarks about how terrible the film is, am I right? You keep telling yourself that…I liked it. As far as the franchise goes, the best one for me is clearly the second film, which had the best of both worlds, but the third one is a close second. Yes, I consider the first film the worst one…technically, but they are all so close in comparison. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is another one of those R-rated Christmas tales that’s just a hoot and holler. So stop your nitpicking and just enjoy the thing.

Alright, so as people grow older, you know reality sinks in and you grow apart from friendships, even those you previously considered most important. The same applies to Harold and Kumar, because since the second film, a few years have passed and Harold is now married and living a very responsible life. Meanwhile, Kumar is still getting high and ignoring life, but that’s about to end when Vanessa tells him that she is pregnant and he must get his act together. When a package comes in the mail for Harold, Kumar decides to drop it off at his house. When he arrives, they realize that the package was a huge joint, and Kumar ends up accidentally burning Harold’s Christmas tree down. That tree was specially grown by Harold’s father-in-law, so the two set out on an epic journey to retrieve a new tree to make it seem like nothing ever happened.

Okay, so the franchise is getting more and more emotional. That’s a bit of a problem. I don’t mind a little drama when it is needed, but it’s a problem when the franchise also decides on getting more over-the-top with each film. On one end, you have the film trying to be more human and realistic, while on the other, you have it trying to be the most absurd, random, over-the-top stoned comedy. It’s probably to keep the film feeling more balanced between the two extremes, but there’s just something about too much emotion that feels wrong for the series. In the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t a huge issue.

The comedy was great, but again…flawed. The first two films thrived off of the idea of subtle satirical undertones masked through primarily racial jokes. Now, they had the same type of spirit and jokes here as well, but it seemed to me that almost all of the satire stuff was gone and the rest of the humor was used more aimlessly just because they could. By doing that, they were able to touch territory they weren’t able to before as the writing was quite random, but honestly – that random writing was hilarious. It was hilarious because, and this is important, it was self-aware.

The one thing that has been consistent throughout the whole series in terms of the jokes, is that it is very self-aware. Now, the other film were always slightly self-aware, that’s the whole point of satire, but satires aren’t always obvious. They are made to attract the subconscious. This film, instead of using satire style, they used pure self-aware comedy – it kind of turned into a parody of itself. Which I’m fine with. You see, this film is 3D, and it makes fun of 3D films by being 3D. People point to the camera, and the guy literally asks the other what he’s looking at (us). Neil Patrick Harris says “I’ll see you in the fourth”. Kumar’s alias in part of the film is that he works for the White House (prior to filming this movie, Kal Penn actually did work at the White House). This stuff is hilarious, and it’s all because they changed things just enough.

Some of the jokes might be a little too much to ask the audience to accept, especially the whole subplot of getting a baby high on practically every illegal substance known to man. People could reasonably call that disgusting and inhumane for a movie to even think of doing that. I will say that the way they did it in this film made it clear to the audience that it wasn’t realistic, just cliché like everything else in the film. You could tell that she wasn’t high and they were just making fun of drug side effects. But people really are sensitive, and it won’t even matter. You can do drugs and make crude humor and curse all you want in a film, but as soon as you use a baby as a comedic tool the way they did here, you’re going to get some angry customers, just saying.

The Good:
All in all, even though the comedy differs from the last two films, I still found it pretty funny. It was full of inside jokes and self-aware mocks, and I loved it. The theme of Christmas seemed to fit right in with Harold & Kumar.

The Bad:
Let’s be honest here, the other films were over-the-top, but I mean come on, Christmas magic just doesn’t fit the profile of the others at all. It’s hilarious and outlandish, but I could see a lot of people being disappointed. The first film was actually realistic in the sense that people that know how marijuana works could see that happening in real life. This one lost most of what the first film set out for. I couldn’t care less, but my opinion differs from the general public.

Memorable Quote:

Kenneth Park: This is a Sharp 52″ Aquos Quattron TV with state-of-the-art 3D technology that makes Avatar look Avatar-ded.

Harold: I don’t know. Hasn’t the whole 3D thing jumped shark by now?

Kenneth Park: Mr. Lee, you don’t understand. This is the best 3D you’ve ever seen. It’s gonna be amazing!

[Kenneth gives two thumbs up to the audience]

Harold: Who are you looking at?

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