Monday, November 7, 2011

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

So, after wasting three hours watching a truly pitiful performance from my Bills, I needed to get my mind to another place; to cheer it up a bit.  So, with that in mind, I thought, what better way than to catch the new Harold & Kumar film.  A bit of mindless comedy was certainly what I needed.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, is, well what you’d expect it to be.  It is filled with misadventures, drug use, sexual innuendo and a whole bunch of other slacker-inspired attributes.  But it’s funny, really funny. 

I’m assuming you’ve seen the other Harold & Kumar films.  Therefore I’ll simply say that you’re going to get a whole lot of the same type of humor and antics displayed in the previous efforts. 

What I’d first like to talk about is the use of the 3D technology.  I’ve been waiting for a film to take full advantage of 3D, and finally, of all the movies, the best use of this technology is on full display here in Harold & Kumar’s latest offering.  The 3D is at a constant throughout the film, with countless instances of goo, eggs, hands, canes, snowflakes and so forth, escaping the screen, seemingly inches from your face.  This factor alone made the film worth seeing, but there are a few other reasons to see this movie as well.

Briefly, the film is chock full of references to other movies, animation and live action, television shows, music, current events and more.  I won’t detail them all, but will say they poke fun at everything and anyone.  There’s countless stereotypical slants shown in different lights; there are countless knocks on the characters themselves as well.  In Neil Patrick Harris’ brief cameo in this film he says he’s not really Gay, that he only uses it as a front to get more women, obviously using different terminology.  There is also another instance where Adrian, Kumar’s “friend,” tells him that he told this girl that Kumar worked for the white house, to which Kumar replies, “yeah, who’d ever believe that,” a subtle yet obvious allusion to Kal Penn’s previously held role in the Obama administration.

But these types of things we’ve come to expect from the lovable stoners.  In this film however, there are two serious themes underlining the entire project. 

The main theme is how true friendship is incredibly important and can endure any problem that comes along the way, including major philosophical differences on love and life.  Time is of no consequence either when it comes to true friendship.  You can pick up where you last left off, despite the number of years since last seeing one another.  This type of thematic is threaded throughout the film and while spun in their particular ways of doing things, the idea is portrayed wonderfully.

The second theme I’d like to talk about is how the idea of family, particularly parenting is everywhere throughout this film.  In fact, with the amount of attention paid to this theme, I’d be inclined to suggesting it is in fact the main theme of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.  This theme is evidenced by:

1.            The idea of familial love:
A.     Harold’s father in-law, played by Danny Trejo, is an     intimidating man that strikes holy fear into Harold.  He thinks his wife’s father simply hates him, but as it turns out, he’s only acting in such a way to ensure his daughter is in good hands, of a man that truly loves here and will do what is needed to make her happy.
B.     There is a scene where the girl that Adrian is trying to “hook-up” with is caught in a precarious position just as her father walks into the room.  This father just happens to be a well-publicized crime boss and sociopath.  He proceeds to put hits out on Harold, Kumar and the rest of the people at the party.  As twisted as this may sound, he did it for the love of his daughter; that he’d do anything to protect her.
C.     Harold and his wife are trying hard to have a baby, which is offset by Kumar inadvertently impregnating his on again, off again girlfriend.  While Harold is shown as ready to take on the responsibility of parenthood, yet not in a position to add that role to his daily duties, Kumar is not ready, still living the immature lifestyle of the slacker-stoner, yet he is the one with this very real responsibility staring him in the face. 
D.     There’s a season, while Harold & Kumar are tripping out, where the duo are warped into a reality consisting solely of Claymation.  In this scene you see a moment where they are, while exaggerated to the nth degree, affection with a young boy they see as a squirrel in the tripping sequence, thus illustrating, albeit in an unorthodox manner, that they are there for that kid, as the evil snowman comes to kill them. 
E.     The protection of children aspect continues.  The duo is in Neil Patrick Harris’ dressing room when he is giving impromptu “acting” lessons to a beautiful dancer.  He is acting wildly inappropriate and eventually she leaves.  But the aside shows Harold & Kumar, while curious as to what will happen next, are disgusted and feel like they must do something to protect the girl from NPH’s appalling behavior.  The fact that they didn’t need to take action is not of importance, it’s that this disgust appeared in them, which shows they are moving closer to the point they’ll need to arrive at, in order to become the responsible and caring parents their “quest” demands.
F.      There’s a saying that any couple trying to have kids should get a pet, particularly a dog, first.  Apparently there is some real scientific data to suggest that pet ownership is a verified primer to parenthood.  While not a pet, Kumar does take offense to NPH’s berating of his waffle-bot.  NPH proceeds to give the wafflebot to him, which Kumar then agrees to this “adoption.”  Throughout the rest of the movie the robot is seen as a surrogate child to Kumar, where mutual “love” is clearly illustrated.  This step furthers Kumar’s transformation from loser-slacker-stoner to responsible-“adult”-parent.
G.     The converse is shown as well.  Todd, a friend of Harold’s, who happens upon this misadventure, has his baby with him.  While innocent in the regards that he personally, didn’t play any role in what happens to the child throughout the film, which I’m purposely withholding as to not spoil it, he’s also guilty of being a bad parent.  He’s guilty because a good parent would never accept a situation where his daughter would enter into situations that aren’t appropriate, let alone dangerous.  But because of his desperate need of friendship and his “pushover” personality he gives in to Harold & Kumar and join, with his daughter, on this much inappropriate journey.

Kumar grows up throughout the film and by the end you can see his maturity, sort of, as fully developed, where he’s reconciled his past life with his future life and in so doing he’s prepared to handle the responsibility of his current life.

Harold grows up throughout the film as well, but in an entirely different manner.  He starts off as the adult, but in so doing a part of him, a part that is still very real to him, is being repressed, and therefore he must learn to take control of his current situation, stand up for himself to his father-in-law, reconcile with his friend and bring back the part of his life he cast aside, the part that was missing.  It’s no coincidence either, that at the very end of the film, after all the atonement has taken place, that he’s presented with the news that his wife is now pregnant as well.

I was actually amazed I saw this theme in this film.  It came completely out of the blue and took me decisively by surprise.  Yet, after thinking about it for a bit, should it really have been that big of a surprise?  After all, the film is about Christmas, and what greater story about parenting is there?

Harold & Kumar deliver yet again.  Is A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas unorthodox, crude, and inappropriate for most audiences? Yes, but its also really funny and surprisingly endearing as well.


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