A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (review)

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John Cho and Kal Penn in A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas red light

I’ve been trying to think of what aspect of the third installment of the stoner saga of Harold and Kumar pisses me off the most, and I think I’ve settled on it: many of the same movie fans who will moan and groan at the prospect of the star-studded round-robin romantic comedy New Year’s Eve will lap this up, but it’s just as pandering and just as preposterous. Want to make manchildren laugh? Blow some weed smoke out at them in 3D. Call something “Avatarded” as a compliment. Get a baby high. Throw in a subplot about a “hot virgin I met on the Internet” who’s horny for a manchild. (That, right there, must be one of the most brilliantly pandering things a movie has ever come up with. Credit to screenwriter Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg for knowing their audience.) Shoot Santa Claus in the head. Throw something out at the audience in 3D and have it “break the glass” of the camera. Injure a penis. Introduce a robot that makes waffles. Presume that ethnic stereotypes are funny when directed at other people but sad and demeaning when directed at our “heroes.” Turn attempted rape into a joke that is hilarious because it’s a guy who pretends to be gay who’s attempting it. (Perhaps Neil Patrick Harris [The Smurfs] gets a kick out of pretending to be a rapist.) Give it all to a TV director — Todd Strauss-Schulson — who makes shorts with titles such as “Sorority Pillow Fight” and “Big Pussy.” As Harold (John Cho: Star Trek) and Kumar (Kal Penn: The Namesake) rekindle their friendship on Christmas Eve as they hunt down a Christmas tree to replace the one they burned up, all of their misadventures are cheaply and lazily calculated to be considered “awesome” by eternally 12-year-old boys who are afraid of women and of adult life — or are nostalgic for such a time. It makes me wonder what comedy might look like if our culture expected men to grow up before they’re 40. The only good thing I can say about this flick: I’m glad to see a successful, popular franchise featuring two nonwhite actors in (mostly) color-blind roles — I even really like Cho and Penn. I just can’t stand Harold and Kumar. If we could move on to getting these guys and other nonwhite actors such roles in good movies, that’d be real progress.

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