As you might imagine, stoner comedies might not be everybody’s bag of weed but even on that level I’m not sure if A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas really works mainly because a fair number of jokes were made because of 3D which is non-existent in the 2D version (and when the joke is made, it just comes off as unfunny or lame). Even so, there are moments where I chuckled and seeing the two stars back together is at least worth a rental.
Warner Bros. | R/Unrated – 90/96 min. – $35.99 | February 7, 2012
Directed by: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Writer(s): Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg (characters by); Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg (written by)
Cast: Kal Penn, John Cho, Neil Patrick Harris, Amir Blumenfeld, Danny Trejo
Theatrical Release Date: November 4, 2011
Features: 2 Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, DVD Copy, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 38.2 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): Region Free
THE MOVIE – 2.5/5
The latest in the Harold and Kumar franchise, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is the long awaited third entry into the modern-day Cheech and Chong pot infused comedy sub-genre.
This second sequel takes place six years after the events of Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay where Kumar Patel (KAL PENN) has grown a Galifianakis-like beard (before he chopped it off) after girlfriend Vanessa (DANNEEL HARRIS) broke up with him and he’s let himself delve deeper into un-cleanliness and, of course, pot smoking.
On the other side, Harold Lee (JOHN CHO) is now working in the business world. He’s got a nice office with a view of protestors, is getting his visiting father-in-law (DANNY TREJO) a new 3D television (sponsored by Sharp), and has a nice suburban home and a spicy hot wife Maria (PAULA GARCES) waiting for him. Oh, and with this new domestic life, he’s also quit pot smoking… What has the world come to when the Dynamic Pot Duo has given it up?
The pair tries to supplement their friendship with others. For Kumar it’s with his obnoxious neighbor Adrian (AMIR BLUMENHELD from “College Humor”) and Harold it’s an all-too square suburban husband/father, Todd (TOM LENNON). Of course, neither of them can replace the friendship the other one had and soon the two worlds collide once again after Kumar receives a package at the apartment addressed to Harold (who hadn’t lived there in two years).
Meanwhile, back at the Lee household, Maria’s numerous relatives are coming over for the holidays including her intimidating father (DANNY TREJO) who has his own traditions which include a fresh Christmas tree grown at his tree farm, which he promptly replaces the Lee’s white artificial one with. It’s a special tree so you know nothing will go wrong… right? Lo and behold, Kumar comes over to drop off the package and when they open it, it’s a box holding one of the best blunts either of them have seen. Kumar couldn’t wait to light it up, much to Harold’s surprising dismay, and the melee that occurs burns the tree down putting Harold into an absolute panic knowing what his father-in-law might do to him.
With Harold now royally pissed (and scared) he scrambles to find a similar tree on Christmas Eve while Kumar and Adrian set off for a party to which Adrian is looking forward to hooking up with a hot teenager. Along the way, though, they see a tree stand with one gorgeous tree left. Kumar offer up more money and grab it unaware that, take a guess, that it is the same tree Harold already put on hold. I won’t mock this given this isn’t the kind of movie that takes itself too seriously.
Anyway, in some more happenstance, Harold arrives soon after and since it’s too early to end the movie, the tree is destroyed after a car crash. However, Adrian has a plan: if he can get to the party, he’s sure that he will be able to procure their tree. Upon their arrival – with Harold’s bud Todd and his infant daughter high off of pot smoke from Kumar – they find the place filled with teens with one, the household’s son, taking aim and Harold and Kumar as old guys. The duo challenges the punk to a game of beer pong. Meanwhile, Adrian meets up with hottie Mary (JORDAN HINSON from “Eureka”) but discovers why no one else dares takes her virginity: her father (ELIAS KOTEAS) is a volatile Russian gangster!
So you get the drift to what will happen next. Soon enough, Harold and Kumar are split from their respective fake buds and are together once again, roaming the streets in desperate search for the elusive tree. Their adventure takes them to a stage rehearsal for Neil Patrick Harris’ (once again, as himself) Christmas Special in what is probably the darkly funniest and best part and finally to an accidental shooting of Santa Clause.
Alright, first things first, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas might entertain fans of the first two films. For me, I enjoyed the previous entries but wasn’t exactly in love with either, though they did provide a fine amount of funny moments here and there. With this third movie, I thought there was something missing which early on I got an inkling of what: it was made with 3D in mind and makes numerous jokes to that effect. But viewing the 2D version, it loses some of the impact and thus the larger joke. This is one of those instances where seeing something as intended doesn’t exactly translate too well at home.
That said, even when the film doesn’t focus on the 3D elements, I thought the plot was at best thin. Yes, I realize this is a movie to be watched while stoned (or buzzed) but couldn’t the writers at least give some more effort? Even so, I will admit to laughing at the various jokes so it’s not a complete waste of time.
For their parts, John Cho and Kal Penn slink right back into their roles and continue to share a comedic chemistry not seen since Cheech and Chong. The pair manages to overcome some of the duller moments in the second act and finish the film with a relatively funny bang. And while it is indeed a stoner comedy, they each give their characters enough humanity for the audience to want to care for their outcomes which is more than I can say for other modern comedies…
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas was helmed by Todd Strauss-Schulson whose previous experience included a few TV or DTV movies and some work for College Humor. I guess he does a good job moving the film along as the 90-minute running time (I chose to watch the theatrical version) moves along at a brisk pace.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.5/5
This release comes with an exclusive Extended Cut which runs about 6-minutes longer. HOWEVER, for some odd reason, Warner only provides this cut with a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track while the theatrical version gets a lossless one. Also, the studio has gone back to using flippers as now the DVD Copy is on the B-side of the disc. Nice going Warner.
With regards to the features, it’s a really disappointing collection the studio has collected. After releasing the previous movies with a healthy amount of features, we’re relegated to 15-minutes worth of fluff (all of which are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **):
Through the Haze with Tom Lennon (TRT 8:25; HD) contains a few mini-featurettes: “I’m Doing a Puff Piece Over Here” (1:57), “I Hate Drugs” (0:59), “F#*@ You Charles Dickens” (1:50), “I’m Just Brainstorming Here” (1:28), “The Marshmallow Man” (1:07) and “19th Greatest Christmas Story Ever Told” (1:14). The co-star takes on different topics on the set of the movie integrated with behind-the-scenes footage. It’s all in jest so you’re not going to get much info out of it.
Bringing Harold and Kumar Claymation to Life (3:32; HD) tackles how the sequence was made. Sadly it’s probably the more enlightening featurette on the disc…
Deleted Scenes (3:48; HD) – Lastly we get three scenes that didn’t make the final cut (or used alternate scenes) for whatever reason, though probably because they’re not very funny.
Last and certainly least is a BD-Live portal and the UltraViolet Digital Copy code.
Preview – Project X
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Warner Brothers releases A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas onto Blu-ray with a good looking 1080p high-definition transfer. While I don’t consider this to be an amazing picture, the detail levels are good with certain sharpness to faces and objects and discernable amount of natural noise providing a film-like experience. Given it was filmed for 3D the colors might’ve been pumped up to offset the darkness the glasses give off. That said, the video quality is satisfying enough.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The disc comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which is more than serviceable for a movie like this. The dialogue levels, which mainly come out of the center channel, sounds good while any other elements like the comedic music or audio effects, come out of the front and rear channels.
As I mentioned in the features section, the Extended Cut comes with a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Now, while it is perplexing as to why the studio did this especially considering I would think an extra lossless track would still fit (this cut is not done via seamless branching, so it’s two separate files on the disc), yet still the track is at least functional.
OVERALL – 2.0/5
Overall, as you might imagine, stoner comedies might not be everybody’s bag of weed but even on that level I’m not sure if A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas really works mainly because a fair number of jokes were made because of 3D which is non-existent in the 2D version (and when the joke is made, it just comes off as unfunny or lame). Even so, there are moments where I chuckled and seeing the two stars back together is at least worth a rental.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.