Yes, it’s outrageously improper, even feigning pot, cocaine and ecstasy highs for a toddler. But A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is no more disturbingly real and thus truly disturbing than its stoners’ most fanciful dreams. In fact, that’s what the entire film feels like, making its drug-laced trips seem like dreams within a dream.
This third foray in the pot-puffers’ series has Kumar (Kal Penn) and Harold (John Cho) reconnecting on Christmas Eve after an estrangement fueled by Harold’s entry into respectable society. He’s married, has a steady job, owns a large home and is about to start a family. He doesn’t need weed-loving Kumar to enter that equation and upset it with the usual crazed trouble that follows them whenever they share a bong.
But that’s what he gets, leading to a string of absurdly over-the-top yet fancifully funny misadventures which are even more amusing given the staid, ’80s-style comedy framework. It almost feels like Harold & Kumar melded to Home Alone or Adventures in Babysitting, hold the smarmy cuteness and crank up the harmless hedonism.
Harmless is just what stoner buddies such as Harold and Kumar or Bill and Ted tend to be: They’re lovable partiers whose indulgences aren’t the cause but the circumstantial framework for bizarre escapades ranging from a run-in with a ruthless drug lord to an impromptu Radio City-style performance of The Nutcracker meets the Rockettes.
That stage show stars old pal “Neil Patrick Harris,” played by Neil Patrick Harris with an ironic lust for females that’s thinly veiled behind his allegedly faux gay pose. The overbearing show unleashes everything and the kitchen sink for in-your-face holiday spirit with twisted tweaks.
Elsewhere, Christmas trappings aren’t really vital to the gags, just an excuse to create a framework with an urgent timetable. Harold must replace the beloved but now burned (don’t ask) Christmas tree his father-in-law (Danny Trejo) brought to his house by the time his wife and in-laws return from mass. What do mobsters have to do with that? Nothing. Much of this mirth could have happened in July.
But the contrast of cheery holiday spirit with violent, lewd, drug-laced, preposterous, wildly eventful shenanigans does make this a fitting film for those who love the likes of Bad Santa or the best anti-Christmas movie ever, The Ref.
BTW, dig Penn’s one-liner ribbing himself as an unlikely candidate to be a White House aide — which he was.
Sure, it’s strange to be unleashing this Blu-ray near Valentine’s Day instead of Christmas, but consider it a valentine to stoners and their admirers everywhere. From claymation animation to the world’s most uncomfortable ice-stuck appendage, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is a warped guilty-pleasure treat for any season.