Ah, the holidays. It’s the time of year for endearing traditions like eggnog, candy canes, family members you pretend to like, Christmas trees, the “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas” debate, racking up credit card debt, dick jokes, and drug humor. Wait, what?
Yeah, you heard me.
In the third entry to the Harold and Kumar comedy series, the duo get into their usual shenanigans (dick jokes and drug humor), and it’s framed within the structure of a traditional holiday movie. When the story opens, the titular characters have been separated for years. Harold is now a hot shot, Wall Street-type, and Kumar is, well, still a stoner. After a package addressed to Harold comes to Kumar’s apartment, they cross paths again and find themselves in a series of drug-laced misadventures. Beginning with burning down Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree, the goofiness escalates while our heroes try to find a replacement, reestablish their friendship, and help Harold earn his father-in-law’s approval.
One of the advantages of a sequel like this is that the cast and crew has become so familiar with the formula, they manage to deliver it with a seasoned finesse. They’ve not only found their voice; they’re now very comfortable using it. The humor fans have gotten used to is there, but much more refined. Standout scenes include a toddler doing ecstasy and other drugs to Santa being shot in the face and many other sequences that will delight the right people and offend those who probably wouldn’t buy tickets for the film anyway. John Cho, Kal Penn, and Neil Patrick Harris (reprising his role as himself) all seem to be having a ton of fun. Harris even squeezes in a Starship Troopers reference, which made me smile.
As a comedy, the film demonstrates that the series still holds a lot of the same steam that made the first two so successful. Interestingly enough, it also works as a holiday film. Exploring themes of friendship, growing up, and dealing with family, it is unafraid to have some true-to-life elements among all the debauchery that fans have come to expect. And they will not be disappointed.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas opens in Philly-area theaters today.