It’s easy to call A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas the best of the ramshackle series. The franchise has been defined by stoner humor and gross out gags that work as often as they don’t, but here the filmmakers –energized by the absurdity of making the film in three dimensions – have their best hit to miss ratio yet. John Cho and Kal Penn returns as the titular heroes who are no longer best friends but must save Christmas by getting a perfect tree for Harold (Cho) and his wife’s family (headed up by Danny Trejo). If it were easy, there’d be no movie. Our review of A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas on Blu-ray follows after the jump.
The film begins with Kumar (Penn) buying weed from a Santa (Patton Oswalt). His life is mostly the same, though his girlfriend left him and his next door neighbor Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) rents out his toilet to homeless people. Harold (Cho) works on Wall Street and has a new best friend in Todd (Tom Lennon), a boring suburban dad with no tolerance for swearing, especially around his baby. Harold is freaking out because his wife (Paula Garces) is trying to get pregnant, and his father in law Mr. Perez (Trejo) is coming over for the holidays. Mr. Perez loves Christmas, and has brought his entire extended family with him.
When Kumar gets a present for Harold delivered to their old apartment, he decides to drop it off on the way to a party, and when the gift is a huge joint he lights it up and accidentally burns down Mr. Perez’s family tree. Mr. Perez grows trees, and they are very important to him, so the duo come together to find a tree when a car accident accidentally destroys their back up plan tree.
Any movie where Danny Trejo ejaculates in three dimensions and a baby tries numerous drugs is going to be for certain tastes, but the film has a great heart under its dirty jokes and the laughs hit frequently enough. The franchise has always been sloppy, and some of the subplots – like Adrian trying to have sex with a mob boss’s daughter – don’t go any place that interesting, but there’s generally enough going on to make the film work.
But the highlights are easily Neil Patrick Harris and the Waffle Bot. NPH plays himself again, and though killed in the last film was sent back from heaven by Jesus for macking too hard on his ladies. Harris plays himself as the ultimate foul mouthed pussy-hound, and every second he’s on screen he’s great. They take his character in some insane places, including telepathy. But if the film works it’s because Kumar gets a waffle bot that loves making waffles and loves Kumar. So much so that it… well, it’s a great stupid idea. And when Santa Claus shows up, there’s a number of great gags (there’s a reveal shot toward the end that had me howling). This is Todd Strauss-Schulson’s first time directing a feature, and he is promising.
There are still some misfires: a high baby is worth a couple of laughs, but they try milking it for more, and the stop motion sequence has some good jokes, but it feels like Community owns that gag. But even in the extended edition (96 minutes versus 90 minutes), it’s a quick jaunty film with the best narrative hook of the series. By showing that their friendship has faded and why, they’ve got more to do than in some of their past adventures.
Warner Brother’s Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The unfortunate side-effect shooting films for 3-D digitally is they tend to look weak on home video. This doesn’t look terrible, and it’s surely a recreation of how it looked theatrically, but there are many moments where it looks like cheap home video. The film comes in the theatrical and extended editions (90 vs. 96 minutes) and with a DVD and digital copy. Extras are limited. There’s six jokey interviews with Thomas Lennon (10 min.), the self-explanatory “Bringing Harold and Kumar Claymation to Life”(4 min.) and a deleted scene (4 min.). That’s it.