90 min - Comedy - 4 November 2011 (USA)
Ratings: 6.7/10 from 9,647 users Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 47 user | 112 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Writers: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Kal Penn, John Cho and Neil Patrick Harris
I hate comedies. I love comedy. That might seem paradoxal, or it mightn’t. I love watching every good stand-up out there: Jerry Seinfeld, Louie CK, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, the old Eddie Murphy, etc. If it’s good, and is not too obscure, I probably watched it. I love sitcoms and comic writing; but I hate most movie comedies. More often than not, films labelled as comedies should have a warning in upper case: LEAVE YOUR BRAIN AT THE DOOR. I can’t seem to do that on most of those movies since I have trust issues; I’m afraid that when I exit the theatre my brain will no longer be at the door. I wouldn’t be able to come up with an intelligent plan to recover it, thus becoming brainless for the rest of my days – that phenomenon is one of the most common modern day plagues at theatres. That would be a real problem to me seeing that my brain is my second favourite organ®; the only thing that prevents me from eating ice-cream to fast.
Both Hardold and Kumar previous films had that same no-brain-allowed requirements. They were utterly purposeless and pointless. They were mind numbingly stupid. They were fun!
A very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas has all those characteristics except one. You’ll soon find out which.
The first thing that stands this installment aside form the previous two is its basic premise. Harold stopped seeing Kumar because he was too grown-up for him. By pure chance or, if you believe in the divine (aka Santa), destiny, Kumar shows up at Harold’s door. Events propiciate the difficult, impractical, eccentric or immoral® voyage to attain their ludicrous goals. Oh, wait. Nothing different here.
The second thing that stands apart is the character’s behaviour. The serious Harold tries to keep the craziness to a minimum but in the process enjoys himself as much as Kumar and re-learns the value of friendship. The wacky Kumar is… wacky throughout the film but learns serious lessons in this process of continuous wackyness. Oh, wait. Nothing different here.
The third thing that’s a complete revolution is the appearance of a well-know TV actor playing an escalated version of himself as a entertaining side-show to the main plot. Oh, wait… you get the gist of it.
A very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is more of the same. So, its quality should be the same, right? Wrong! Characters tend to have an expiration date. James Bond’s is long. Sherlock Holmes is even longer. Harold and Kumar’s is as short as an open-carton of milk in fly infested Ethiopia. In the Summer. In a really hot Summer. In Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay I already had doubts whether the milk had gone bad already or if it were just me over-thinking; and brainless over-thinking is a dangerous activity. Beware of it.
In comedy, when we view a sketch, listen to a joke or, in this case, whatch a movie, two very simple things happen: first, we are presented with a misleading but believable premise; secondly, we are thrown off by the realisation that we were mislead. This results in a muscle contraction of between 17 and 40 facial muscles, and the sounds of chortles, guffaws, snorts, roars, or just simple laughter. A very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas fails to mislead us, which is fatal in a comedy. In drama it is the opposite:
The script must keep you off balance, keep you surprised, entertained, involved, and yet, when the denouement is reached, still give you the sense that the story had to turn out that way.®
A comedy that uses the same style of humour constructed to surround finite characters ceases to surprise the viewer.
Frontal nudity, babies high on crack, shit on wind-shield; all honourable features, wasted on a sea of predictability.