Saturday, December 17, 2016

25 Days of Christmas: A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS

Welcome to Day 17 of our 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS series, where we will be taking a look at holiday classics each day in the lead up to Christmas. Today, I'll be reviewing the 2011 holiday comedy, A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS

Not every Christmas movie is sweet and wholesome. Deeply embedded in that end of the spectrum, we have A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. If you want the sex of Bad Santa and the violence of Die Hard all rolled up into a nice joint of a comedy, this is the place to go.

In 2011, three years after Harold & Kumar Go To Guantanamo Bay, John Cho and Kal Penn reunited for one more drug-fueled romp together as the titular characters, Harold and Kumar. Life has changed in major ways for the two friends, with Harold now working a successful career on Wall Stret and Kumar out on his own, still living for his next joint. Harold's future-father-in-law, played by Danny Trejo, comes to visit for the Christmas holidays, bringing his treasured Christmas tree. When a magically-appearing bong brought to Harold by Kumar ends up setting this tree on fire, the two friends must journey out into the snow together and find a new tree and save Christmas.

Yes, the plot is stupid.

I remember hating this movie the first time I saw it. The humor is as over-the-top and in-your-face as humanly possible. There is not a single moment of subtlety in the ninety minute runtime of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. The sex and drugs of the previous two entries are compounded by violence and beat into the ground in this holiday special, made even more ridiculous by the gratuitous 3D. Every single possible demographic is lampooned and stereotyped, with nothing being held anywhere near sacred.

However, rewatching it this year, I found myself having the time of my life. The humor is as raunchy as I remember. Danny Trejo and his extended family of racial stereotypes drop cringeworthy line after line that are not for the easily offended. Series regulars Rosenberg and Goldstein return, offering up their tried and true Jewish caricatures. There are jokes about sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, pedophilia, rape...This movie slaughters more sacred cows than your average episode of South Park. However, it does so in such an extreme way that, in the right mood, it is endlessly entertaining to experience.

The 3D effects seemingly only exist as a pun on the fact that this is the third entry in the Harold & Kumar trilogy. It is referenced in tongue-and-cheek, self-deprecatory ways that end up being some of the funnier gags in the movie. Eggs, trees, joints, hats, and genitalia all fly out at you from the screen in laughably cheesy ways. As is everything else in this film, 3D is yet another way of playing to an extreme.

As is to be expected in a Harold & Kumar movie, Neil Patrick Harris shines as the crowning feature. Playing opposite his showmanship and his public persona as a perfect-looking family man, NPH is slimier than ever. His necessary cameo (lampshaded by his telling the two friends "see you in the fourth one") is fanservice in a delightfully crude way.

And, in one of the weirdest scenes in a recent comedy, a stop motion drug trip crafted by LAIKA, the studio behind this year's Kubo & the Two Strings, amps up the violence, gore, and nudity to ridiculous levels. You will be cringing and howling with laughter at the same time.

There's not a whole lot here designed to get you into the Christmas spirit, but the sickeningly sweet Christmas music ironically set to the background of this movie does set a nice holiday tone. I suppose that at the heart of this story of divided friends coming together to save Christmas, you also have a fairly holiday-typical message of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. However, let's be honest. The real reason to watch this movie isn't to prepare for Christmas. It's to get a break from the Its A Wonderful Life's and A Christmas Story's of the season and revel in gratuitous nudity and gross-out humor.

This is not a great movie. It's not anywhere near the best of the Harold & Kumar trilogy. It's not even a necessary Christmas watch. But, for what it is -- an over-the-top raunchfest that exists solely to entertain loyal fans of Penn and Cho -- A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas wildly succeeds. It is not a movie I regret watching this Christmas season. It is definitely one I'll watch again.

Jonathan's Score: 6.5/10

Be sure to stay tuned throughout the rest of the month! We're posting a new Christmas review every day, both old and new! Check back to see what movie we'll have you singing carols next!

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