Best Movies of All Time + [Todd Strauss-Schulson]

A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS

A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS2011

"Koreans have killed his mother and now his tree. Christmas is ruined."
-- Harold
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is a 2011 comedy directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson that serves as the third installment in the Harold & Kumar franchise and the first since 2008's Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. This film shows the audience that Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have drifted apart over a number of years, after Harold married his longtime sweetheart Maria (Paula Garcés), but after a random package addressed to Harold appears on the doorstep of the two's old apartment, they're thrust into one of their old adventures. When Kumar goes to return the package, he learns that Harold is stuck in a feud with Maria's father (Danny Trejo), who is a stickler for having a perfect Christmas. While Maria and the family go to Midnight Mass, Harold agrees to decorate the tree. In a mishap similar to the ones they've had in the past, Harold and Kumar find themselves in desperate need of a new tree before the Mass ends.

When I first heard about the plans for another addition to the Harold & Kumar franchise, I have to admit I was skeptical about the prospects for its success. Having been a fan of the first film, I was sorely disappointed by the lackluster effort put forth in the franchise's second outing. Add the fact that this little number was announced to be in the third-dimension, and all bets were off on my thinking it might actually be a decent film. However, it actually garnered a series of positive reviews - the film currently holds a 72% approval rating on Rottentomatoes.com - so considering my affection towards the first film, I figured I'd give it a shot.

While the screenplay isn't exactly something to rave about, we're actually given a pleasant surprise. Like the other two films, our heroes' sole focus revolves around one particular desire - in this case, finding a replacement Christmas tree - but as they try to succeed in their plan, a slew of misadventures get in their way. While their adventures this time around hearken back to their standard drug- and alcohol-instilled scenarios of old, the addition of a bit of Christmas flavor brings a new bit of sugar and spice to the franchise. The screenwriters found a way to instill as many Christmas clichés as they can possibly conjure, and they all play to hilarious effect. We even get a bit of a drug-induced clay-mation sequence that ties in quite nicely.

Our central cast is just as good as it has been in the past. The reunion of Cho and Penn is a glorious one to behold, but there's a slew of smaller performances and cameos that definitely deserve mention as well. Trejo does a fantastic job in a limited role, and it's always a pleasure to see him on-screen. We're also getting great supporting performances from Thomas Lennon and Amir Blumenfeld (famous for his work at CollegeHumor.com). There are also some great performances from some of the smaller characters, but I think there's only one real reason that anyone should be ecstatic to see this movie: Neil Patrick Harris. Having appeared in the previous two installments, it was a safe bet that NPH would make another appearance this time around; however, his role this time was a little bit shorter than it has been in the past, but it just might be his funniest bit yet. We even get an appearance from his real-life partner David Burtka, as the two turn their real-life relationship on its ear. So to sum it all up, our ensemble cast is rather fantastic and proves to be simply hilarious.

But past all that, what's really fascinating is that, in between all the raunchiness and irreverent humor, there's a little bit of heart that shines through it all. It's a nice touch, and it's not something we've seen in a Harold & Kumar film to this point, and I think that sets this one apart from its predecessors.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B
1.5 Thumbs Up