Normally, I don’t review movies.
Well, actually, normally I don’t post at all, since I never finish video games anymore. I’m working on that. But today was special! I got a free pass to see an advance screening of this film (and by advance, I mean people on the East Coast are about to see it, I’m sure…but moving on…). I initially wasn’t going to go, having failed utterly in my attempts to enjoy the previous Harold and Kumar offering. I’m sure the target audience for these films are people who don’t know who Cheech Marin or Tommy Chong are, but until marijuana is legalized everywhere, this kind of stoner humour is going to have its own demographic to target. I’m okay with that! The key for any film-maker, regardless of genre or intent, is please – please god – tell a good story. Make a good film! That’s all I ask. Write a script that doesn’t suck, get some actors who can play the characters you’re drawing, and find a director who has a vision of what the movie will look like, and you’re generally going to create something watchable. Some of those movies are still going to be terrible misfires, but I always enjoy the effort being put forth.
So is this latest iteration of Harold and Kumar a good movie? I’m surprised to find myself saying… yes, I thought so. Now, I will admit, this movie is almost certainly going to play better to a sold out theater (my particular screening was on the I-Max in 3-D) on a huge screen. When the entire audience is laughing and having a good time, it’s easy to get swept up in the momentum of the film. I’m usually not a huge ‘out loud’ laughter guy at the movies, but I did find myself cracking frequent smiles, and some parts incited me to laugh out loud.
The film traces yet another night-long misadventure that teams up perennial screw-up Kumar, still living in the same junked apartment and getting high every day (and once again without a job), with straight-laced family-man Harold, who has married his heart-throb Maria and landed a cushy job on Wal-Street. The pals begin the film estranged, and part of the journey that we take with Harold and Kumar is them coming to realize how important their friendship is. Some of the messages in the film are surprisingly heartwarming, despite the comic ridiculousness of every situation that the unlucky pair find themselves in. All of the familiar characters are there, albeit in cameo appearances (even Neil Patrick Harris, though his sequence was particularly fun), and we add some new faces who frame a story that is basically what you’d expect. All of the locations and situations are new, but we are definitely treading familiar ground. Still, I thought this movie felt a good deal fresher than Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay. It has a spirit of fun and a great energy throughout the entire ride, and neither the highs nor the lulls felt overdone to me. The script is fairly tight, all things considered, and breezes in at an 89 minute running time which feels just right.
Oh, and one last thing. For once, yes, I actually thought that the 3-D added something to the film. A lot of the film’s elements are coming at you off of the screen, and the film has an incredibly refreshing sense of humour about how ridiculous it is that a Harold and Kumar movie is in 3-D at all. It was intended to be released in 3-D, as opposed to the cute studio trick of using a computer to add 3-D effects in post to jack up ticket prices, and the effort pays off. By the end I still found myself a little annoyed with the uncomfortable 3-D glasses, and I’m still hardly a champion of paying a premium for 3-D effects, but this film does make good use of them. I’m sure it would still be enjoyable even in 2-D, but in this case I’d recommend seeing the 3-D version.
Merry Christmas, folks.