[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005YYCMA8][/pullquote] Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies, released in 2004 proved an unexpected box office success. The idea of two Asian leads in an American mainstream stoner movie was an unusual choice, but one that has lead to two sequels and a healthy following of fans. The sequel Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay proved just as successful leading to the third installment in the series, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas. Built around the idea of the surreal and prespostorous, the films never apologise or seem guilty for the endless depths of human experience that they mine.
Years on from their escape from Guantanamo Bay, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) no longer spend any time together. Harold is a successful Wall street banker and is married to the love of his life whose family are coming to visit for Christmas. Kumar has dropped out of medical school and spends most of his time stoned. While visiting Harold to drop of some of his things, the pair inadvertently burn down Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree and the old friends begrudging reunite to find a replacement tree and save Christmas.
Christmas films have a certain charm and sentimentality to them that makes them lovable and heart-warming during this festive season. They portray families and children, often with problems that need overcoming and some resolution involving the ‘spirit of Christmas.’ Anyone who has seen It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story will understand. Seemingly at the other end of the spectrum is A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas. At first glance, this is a film that requires you to laugh at toddlers inadvertantly taking class A drugs. But beneath its glossy sheen of rude and crude stoner comedy, beats a heart that is firmly at home with the aforementioned Christmas classics.
The comedy is true to form and fans of the previous installments will like this. There are fart gags, drug-addicted babies, drug-dealer mall Santa’s, the real Santa and of course, Neil Patrick Harris. Unlike his previous cameos, NPH’s appearance is a little too creepy to fit with the rest of the comedy, but he just about saves it with the best scene in the film; His trip to heaven after being shot and killed in the previous film. There’s even a nod to his newly announced status as a gay man and he’s not afraid to poke fun of himself.
This is where A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas is at its best, when it is making little jokes and references to real life, while simultaneously trying to present a ‘truthful’ fictional story. It’s satire and mockery in the extreme, and for fans of the series it works. The success relies on the likeability of the main duo, and both Cho and Penn are in rude health throughout, highlighting their considerable comedic acting chops.