Theater concession stands should be busy this weekend, serving more munchies than usual to moviegoers catching a contact buzz from A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. This 21st century Cheech and Chong duo blows marijuana smoke rings at the holidays, dusting the yuletide tableau with cocaine for good measure and bad taste.
This is the kind of movie that someone in my profession shouldn't enjoy. It is comedy in its most puerile form, with the 3D gimmick shoving Claymation genitalia in your face and Bolivian marching powder practically up your nose. Santa Claus gets a shotgun blast to his head, Jesus hosts a heavenly party with topless angels and a toddler gets high. A twisted mind is required to appreciate this movie. I suppose I'm guilty as charged.
Call it a palate-dirtier, before all those classy, award-worthy films come charging down 2011's home stretch. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas will offer them no competition, I assure you. But for 90 minutes the inmates run the Hollywood asylum, leaving this ragged assortment of sacrilegious, scatological and socially reprehensible flotsam in its wake.
There's something to admire about that, you know? If not, just stop reading now.
Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) haven't been or shared buds in a while. Harold is drug-free, engaged to be married and making money on Wall Street. Kumar is unemployed after failing a drug test (but he's still studying).
They're reunited by a mysterious package containing a huge joint that sets a prized Christmas tree on fire, leading to a desperate search for a replacement that, of course, goes wrong. The quest takes Harold and Kumar from a high school party where they get an egg nog dosing of LSD to a mobster's lair to a cheesy holiday TV special hosted by their depraved partner in crime Neil Patrick Harris.
There isn't a bolder, braver comic performance anywhere this year than Harris' send-up of himself. In real life a proud gay man with no obvious personal issues, Harris gleefully portrays himself as merely acting gay to score with women, and always under some illegal influence. He is loving every debauched minute of the charade, and we love him for it. Listen for Harris' send-off line to Harold and Kumar, and pray that it's true.
Another thing to like about director Todd Strauss-Schulson's movie is the way it celebrates 3D as the shark-jumping gimmick that it is. I'm put off by filmmakers talking proudly about not using the gimmick gratuitously when that's what it was invented for. Strauss-Schulson throws everything at the audience from poop to nuts, especially when it isn't necessary. It's annoying enough to become audacious, and that's good.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas has something for everyone, if everyone is looking for young nuns taking showers, a department store Santa dealing weed, a coked-up infant crawling on the ceiling and Danny Trejo as the father-in-law-to-be from Hell. I didn't think I was looking for that but found it. And heaven help me, it wasn't bad.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365.