Magazine article Screen International

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Magazine article Screen International

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Article excerpt

Dir: Todd Strauss-Schulson. US. 2011. 89mins

Spreading tidings of good cheer - along with the occasional joke about coked-up toddlers or horny virgins with homicidal mobster fathers - A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is a manic, uneven comedy that just barely hits more than it misses. While it lacks the warmth and consistent laughs of the 2004 original, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, the new film is far less relentlessly crass than the 2008 sequel, and the clear camaraderie of leads John Cho and Kal Penn goes a long way to making the whole enterprise a lively affair.

Neil Patrick Harris - reprising his role as an arrogant, edgy version of himself - knows how to make a one-note bit amusing, skewering his own image for maximum comic effect.

Releasing November 4, this R-rated Warner Bros. stoner comedy will probably make most of its box office haul domestically. (The first two instalments brought in approximately 84% of all their grosses stateside.) But considering that 2008's Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay is the series' top earner but only collected $38m in the US, there's a question of how high the ceiling is for this new sequel, even though its 3D screenings will bring in extra coin. More likely, 3D Christmas will have to settle for a niche audience, becoming a stronger ancillary performer than a theatrical one.

As 3D Christmas begins, it's been a couple years since successful Wall Street executive Harold (Cho) hung out with his old pal Kumar (Penn), who's become a layabout and a med-school dropout. But when Kumar receives a mysterious package at his door on Christmas Eve addressed to Harold, he visits his friend, which sets in motion a chain of events whereby Harold's in-laws' prized Christmas tree burns down, forcing Harold and Kumar to go on a mad search into the night for a replacement.

Written by Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg, who also penned the first two movies, 3D Christmas unsurprisingly works best when first-time filmmaker Todd Strauss-Schulson simply lets Cho and Penn fall back into their comfortable, consistently amusing back-and-forth bantering, with uptight Harold nicely complementing the more combative Kumar. It's a shame, then, that the new film distracts from that rapport by creating a dull subplot in which the buddies' new best friends (Tom Lennon and Amir Blumenfeld) are trapped in the house of a murderous mob boss (Elias Koteas) after Harold and Kumar have already escaped. …

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