When Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle originally came out it was a breath of fresh air for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it introduced two actors who shared a remarkable chemistry. John Cho and Kal Penn weren’t well known actors at that point and would begin the path to stardom because of this film because it was a breath of fresh air. Both actors had great chemistry and terrific timing and were given strong characters. After a perfunctory but fairly solid sequel where they escaped from Guantanamo Bay, the duo returns with A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. And if this film is any indication hopefully the franchise has run its course.
Since the last film both Harold and Kumar have taken drastically turns in their lives. Harold is now a strongly successful investment banker with the perfect suburban life with the beautiful wife and house. Kumar, on the other hand, is still the same degenerate stoner who spends his days stoned. With his ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Ackles) carrying their out of wedlock child, he’s no longer friendly with Harold for unspecified reasons. When a mysterious package to Harold is sent to their former address, where Kumar still lives, the two reunite. Unfortunately shenanigans ensue when the tree Harold’s father in law (Danny Trejo) brought is burned down because of Kumar, the two embark on a voyage to get a tree and save Christmas.
A film that has a strong undercurrent of friendship overcoming all, Harold & Kumar 3 just doesn’t have the laugh quotient to match the story. Penn and Cho have the same dynamite chemistry with one another, and we care about the proceedings because they connect so well on the screen, but there isn’t much to the film in terms of comedy to really compliment it. There are plenty of moments that could be played for a long form joke that are cashed in way too early; we have seen everything in other forms throughout the series. This feels like a desperate way to continue the franchise instead of a continuing part of a story needed to be told.
And what should be the film’s funniest moments, when Neil Patrick Parris (playing a demented version of himself) re-enters the picture, falls flat because it’s been played out. We’ve seen NPH already in two films playing against type, especially now considering he’s out of the closet, but all the jokes they do make we can see coming a mile away. There’s nothing new or original that they’re doing with him; we can tell exactly where Todd Strauus-Schulson is going with his introduction and the cameo scene he’s there to try and steal. It feels sadder when he points out that he’ll see the duo in a fourth film than as a meta-comic moment meant to poke fun at the film being a sequel.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is supposed to be the capstone to a franchise that didn’t need it. Instead of finishing strongly it limps to the finish.
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson Notable Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Danny Trejo, Neil Patrick Harris, Danneel Ackles, Paula Garces, Tom Lennon, Eddie Kaye Thomas, David Krumholtz Writer(s): Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg