Review | A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is about the pursuit of a Christmas tree. A few of the (many) things that fly at you in brilliant 3D are: pot smoke, cocaine, human excrement, blazing hot maple syrup, a beer-pong ball, soft-serve ice cream cones, a bloodied molar, lady bits, manly bits, eggs … and did I mention pot smoke? Also: A musical number featuring Neil Patrick Harris feigning cunnilingus. If you loved the first two installments in the Harold & Kumar series, you’ll love this. To re-contextualize an exclamation from Harold’s assistant Kenneth, “It makes Avatar look Avatarted!”

We’re introduced to the tale of our two cannabis-coveting heroes, who’ve grown apart since their Guantanamo Bay adventure six years ago. Kumar (Kal Penn), recently graduated from medical school, is fresh out of a breakup with his girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Ackles) and slacking on finding a job. Harold (John Cho) is a successful investment banker, finally married to Maria (Paula Garces) and more concerned with new sconces and bay windows than partying. Maria’s extended family, in all its National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation-like splendor, arrives via trailer at Harold and Maria’s house. Her father Mr. Perez (Danny Trejo, who wears a terrifying scowl and Cosby-esque Christmas sweaters in the brilliant way that only Danny Trejo can) is mercilessly hard on Harold, who, in turn, vies pitifully for his acceptance. When Maria’s family heads into the city for midnight mass, Harold is entrusted with decorating the sacred Perez family Christmas tree. Thanks to a mysterious package, the Harold and Kumar are reunited — and madness, claymation sequences, musical numbers and some surprisingly heartfelt moments of friendship ensue.

Thrown into the mix are a few other standout roles, specifically, Harold and Kumar’s new friends, tightly wound Todd (Thomas Lennon) and horndog nerd Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld). And we’re reminded, yet again, that Neil Patrick Harris is the Second Coming (not intended, initially, as a double entendre, although it turns out to be valid). But they’re all upstaged by the most endearing robot since Short Circuit‘s Number 5, who’ll leave you seriously pondering your allegiance to pancakes.

Is seeing the first two films of Warner Bros.’ Harold & Kumar franchise a prerequisite for understanding A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas? No, although you’re crazy to miss them, especially as the film’s myriad inside jokes and cameos will be lost on you (Rosenberg and Goldstein are back!). The simple beauty of these movies is the stoner-comedy concept — they’re brilliantly bizarre, endlessly hilarious and universally offensive. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas ups the bar, specifically, using Todd’s young daughter as a guinea pig for endless drug exposure. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a toddler rub cocaine into her gums. In 3D.

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas distinguishes itself from the usual cardboard cutout or Oscar -bait holiday fodder. By the time Harris bids adieu to our heroes with the line, “See you in the fourth one!” you find yourself nodding so hard your 3D glasses nearly fall off. This is a franchise with legs — although it’s probably too high to feel them.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas opens today nationwide.

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