Although still not as fun as the original, fans should enjoy this one better than the preachy second installment (more so if they’re slightly blitzed).
After drifting apart for a few years, a down-on-his-luck but still-toking Kumar (Kal Penn) receives a mysterious package on Christmas Eve addressed to his more successful and happily married buddy Harold (John Cho). After accidentally destroying the traditional live Christmas tree brought by his wife’s family, the old buds join forces to find the perfect replacement and win the approval of Harold’s father-in-law (Danny Trejo). Unfortunately, a series of misadventures involving infants, mobsters, beer pong, various (and illegal) recreational drugs, waffle-making robots, and (of course) Neil Patrick Harris threaten to not only ruin the holiday but also drive a final wedge between Harold and Kumar’s friendship forever. Will our heroes get it together in time to make a fourth movie? Only Kumar’s dealer (Patton Oswalt) knows for sure.
In the original Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, two lovable stoners get blitzed and have a misadventure to find munchies. In the misfire sequel, the stoners escape from Gitmo after being mistaken for terrorists on a boring journey of self-discovery. 3D Christmas fortunately brings back the zany fun and embellishment with as little moral value as possible. If you have any doubts as to whether or not this film is for you, your opinion of various recreational drugs administered to a toddler probably speaks volumes; if that sounds ridiculous, impossible, and hilarious all at the same time, this movie’s for you. Heck, the five minutes worth of Neil Patrick Harris is at least worth a matinee!
3D is right there in the title, but the effect is more of a send-up of crappy 3D films than anything groundbreaking. Every possible excuse is made to exploit the format and send cheaply animated nonsense far out into the audience, an effect that’s mostly wasted (possibly intentionally) unless you arrive at the film either inebriated or blasted out of your mind (not that your local law enforcement would ever condone such reckless and irresponsible behavior). The R-rating gets a nice bump with a few things fans might want to see (gratuitous shower scene alert!) and perhaps not (gratuitous johnson alert!), but expect plenty of blasphemy and intentionally crass racist remarks peppered throughout the dialog.
Clocking in at a mere ninety minutes before overstaying their welcome, the biggest complaint here would be that it still felt a bit stretched between bits. In addition to the 3D, however, the film is also a spoof of the Christmas season without completely destroying the holiday. Anyone who’s seen the previews knows there’s a “claymation” sequence that rings familiar of old childhood holiday specials (and destroys any precious memories you may have had of them). It’s not perfect and it’s not for everyone, but if this turns out to be the last time we’ll ever see Harold and Kumar, this is much better exit strategy than the previous parting shot.
(a three skull recommendation out of four)