Here’s the official synopsis:
After years of growing apart, Harold Lee (John Cho) and Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) have replaced each other with new friends and are preparing for their respective Yuletide celebrations. But when a mysterious package mistakenly arrives at Kumar’s door on Christmas Eve, his attempt to redirect it to Harold’s house ends with the “high grade” contents—and Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree— going up in smoke. With his in-laws out of the house for the day, Harold decides to cover his tracks, rather than come clean. Reluctantly embarking on another ill-advised journey with Kumar through New York City, their search for the perfect replacement tree takes them through party heaven—and almost blows Christmas Eve sky high.
Directed By: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Written By: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Paula Garcés
Despite my own personal views on drug use, I’ve always kind of liked the Harold & Kumar franchise. It’s singular brand of raunch comedy fair has always been somewhat unique and pushed the boundaries of its own genre. That’s why A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas was something of a let down for me. If one phrase could be used to describe the film…it’s “phoned in”.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of moments in the film that had me laughing. For the most part though, all the gags and jokes felt recycled, taken from other films and even their own first two movies. This isn’t inherently bad and comedy films do it on a regular basis, but for a franchise as unique as H&K has prided itself on, it seemed downright egregious.
I think part of the problem is the story itself. Harold has essentially grown up, so a lot of the things that happen just feel out of place for his character now. This is evident in one of the earlier scenes in the film when he comes home to his wife and she says “F*** a baby into me.” While something like that would have seemed normal in the earlier Kumar scene, the picture the film paints of Harold as his storybook home and down-to-Earth life doesn’t seem to fit that type of reference.
Maybe that’s really the problem here, like Harold the film has outgrown itself. Like a child star who’s cute and funny, when it grows up he resorts to reliving his glory days in some vain attempt to regain stardom. Unlike the first two films which had memorable scenes that had you talking and your friends repeating endlessly every time you saw them, no scene in A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas jumps out at you and sticks in your brain.
I know I’m coming off fairly harsh here, and that’s probably not the right thing to do either. Like I said at the start, there were several moments throughout the film that had me laughing. There are funny parts to it, but compared to the other two films, it falls short.
The initial novelty of seeing these guys finally back together on the big screen wears off quickly. Even though you’ll find yourself laughing throughout, by the end of the movie you’ll realize that it might have been better for this franchise to have remained a duology. Still it’s worth a rental if you need quick and cheap laughs.
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (which is available now on Blu-Ray/DVD and digital download) gets a 5 out of 10.