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THIS REVIEW DEALS WITH GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT. IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN.

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Comedy
Cast
John Cho as Harold; Kal Penn as Kumar; Thomas Lennon as Todd; Amir Blumenfeld as Adrian; Paula Garcés as Maria; Danny Trejo as Mr. Perez; Neil Patrick Harris as Himself
Director
Todd Strauss-Schulson
Distributor
20th Century Fox
In Theaters
November 4, 2011
On Video
February 7, 2012
Reviewer
Paul Asay
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

It's been years since Harold and Kumar shared their last joint joint. And their friendship has since diffused in the winds of time, like a vapor of strange-smelling smoke.

Harold, in the eyes of the Occupy Wall Street crowd, would be part of the 1% (or at least close enough to it to throw eggs at). He's a successful, tie-wearing big shot with a beautiful wife, a huge house and perhaps an unhealthy preoccupation with wall sconces. He's stopped using marijuana altogether. The only thing high about Harold these days is the credit limit on his platinum card.

Kumar's life, meanwhile, has literally gone to pot. While Harold's given up weed, Kumar's given up everything else but. His girlfriend, his prospects, even most of his friends are gone, long gone. His existence has been winnowed down to his next little baggie and his bong. And when his ex, Vanessa, barges into his filthy apartment to tell him she's pregnant, Kumar is so wasted he can't quite concentrate on what she has to say.

In Harold's eyes, Kumar's a liability. And in Kumar's eyes, Harold is … well, a little blurry. But when a mysterious package for Harold shows up at Kumar's front door on Christmas Eve, Kumar decides to ferry it over to Harold's suburban mansion. Harold—despite some misgivings—invites Kumar inside and together they open the box. And in it they find … a gigantic reefer that Kumar, in quick succession, A) lights and B) inadvertently uses to set Harold's Christmas tree on fire.

Harold, naturally, gets a little, um, out of joint at the sight of his flaming Douglas fir. And though the backstory is too long and too outlandish to detail here, I'll let you know that the tree is incredibly important (underline incredibly several times and add several exclamation marks) to Harold's intimidating father-in-law. Harold needs to get a new one that looks exactly like it.

Positive Elements

Lurking languidly beneath all the haze, and sandwiched in between the sex and violence, we're given two likable protagonists who genuinely care about each other in spite of their differences. They even manage to teach each other some valuable lessons.

Kumar is mystified, for instance, that Harold's going to such lengths to make his father-in-law happy—doing things no sane person would feel they'd have to do. "You're right," Harold says. "I don't have to. I want to." Why? Because he cares about his wife, and he'll do whatever he can to make her happy. Kumar then takes that sentiment to heart and patches things up with Vanessa, telling her that he's ready to take responsibility—even if that means giving up marijuana. (Sadly, she doesn't force him to, but his offer at least seems sincere.)

Harold simultaneously learns to stand up for himself a little more in the presence of his father-in-law. And it's a stance that's much appreciated by the tough-as-nails guy.

Kumar also comes to appreciate the value of being kind to others. (Never mind that the "others" in this case is a waffle-making robot.)

Spiritual Content

When Harold and Kumar run into Neil Patrick Harris and demand to know why he's not dead (he was gunned down in Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay), Harris launches into a story about how he went to heaven—which resembled a hip nightclub. "It was like being famous in the early '90s," he says. He's let in by gruff bouncer St. Peter and runs into Jesus, who's drinking and cavorting with two topless (female) angels. When Harris steals the angels away (and is shown sitting with them, one of the angel's hands down his pants manually stimulating him), Jesus slams down a shot and calls God to have the interloper sent back down to earth. The insinuation? Neil Patrick Harris is bigger than Jesus in heaven, and Jesus couldn't take the competition.

If that doesn't make this feel like an understatement, I'm not sure what else could: Faith in this Harold & Kumar Christmas caper is inserted as the butt of jokes. Kumar's friend Adrian is on a quest to deflower a virgin named Mary (the song "Ave Maria" plays as she descends a set of stairs). An explosion rocks Harold's nearly life-size nativity set, sending a winking Jesus sky-high. Harold and Kumar grab a bite to eat with a Jew and a Christian Jew; the Christian saying that a lot of his stereotypical Jewish tendencies were wiped away during baptism. He refers to Jews using several anti-Semitic terms. And he discusses how he's looking forward to his uncircumcision operation. He and his son genuflect.

Kumar plots to steal a Christmas tree from a midnight Mass; In his fantasy plan, he imagines punching the archbishop (we see one of his teeth fly), donning the man's religious garb and sneaking into the nuns' showers. The nuns, for the record, are shown naked except for their headgear; one has had her pubic hair shaved in the form of a cross.

"Joy to the World" is heard while Kumar and a friend smoke pot.

Sexual Content

In addition to the bare-breasted angels and fully naked nuns (some of whom lather up in the shower and kiss), Mary strips down to a lacy thong and climbs on top of Adrian. Then, when he gets cold feet, she grasps his penis (unseen by audiences) and tries to force copulation. She also strips off Harold's pants in an effort to perform oral sex on him. Harold and his wife have sex on a staircase. (We see her underwear and her bare bum; we see and hear sexual movements and exclamations).

Neil Patrick Harris—who has declared himself gay in real life—presents his apparent homosexuality as a cover for wild heterosexual urges. We see him passionately kiss his same-sex lover for the cameras, then make faces about it. He entices a woman to come to his dressing room for some private coaching, asking her to undress: It's safe, he says, because they're just a couple of "girlfriends." She does (down to her skimpy black underwear), and Harris gives her a backrub, unsnaps her bra, spanks her, spits on her and begins to masturbate on her before she puts a stop to it.

In a claymation sequence, Kumar unzips his pants to reveal his penis. Back in live-action mode, Harold accidentally gets his privates stuck on a frozen pole. (And we see what's stuck.) A guy wipes his mouth after lifting his head from a pair of spread legs. Various characters are shown engaged in rowdy intercourse. (They're either mostly clothed or partially covered by sheets.)

There's talk about the taste of semen, Harris' exploits from a previous film and the fact that Mary's friends lost their virginity in seventh grade. Jokes are made about masturbation, molestation (by priests and a neighbor), shaving pubic hair and orgasms.

Violent Content

Mary is the daughter of a Russian-born gangster, and we see a montage of him killing people. One of his kills involves slicing a man's throat, sending blood spurting. Henchmen fire wildly at a party and tie Harold and Kumar to a pole. Then they douse them with gasoline, preparing to kill them.

A boy sticks a fork into a toaster and throws up as he's being shocked. Scalding hot waffle syrup burns a little girl's hand and a man's face. A robot thwops a man in the leg. Someone is knocked out with a piece of exercise equipment (after being ineffectively hit in the head with an umbrella). Kumar falls on some slick ice. A tree catches fire. A car crashes through several construction barrels before flipping and exploding.

Santa Claus is accidentally shot with a shotgun: He falls to earth bleeding profusely from a head wound. Blood jets from it like a water pick. And the subsequent operation sequence, featuring more spurting blood and jagged wounds, is pretty grotesque. We see a bloody flashback of Neil Patrick Harris getting shot in the back.

An evil snowman graphically cuts a man in two, causes a great deal of carnage on the streets and splatters a squirrel on the ground (all in claymation).

Crude or Profane Language

More than 100 f-words. More than 30 s-words. We're also subjected to "b‑‑ch," "h‑‑‑" and "douche." Several characters express racial attitudes or hurl racial insults, including the n-word. God's name is abused more than a dozen times; Jesus' half a dozen. People refer to various body parts in a number of creatively crude, vulgar and obscene ways.

Drug and Alcohol Content

One of the most unfortunate moral casualties during Harold and Kumar's Christmas tree spree is the daughter of one of Harold's friends, Tom. The girl, about 2, sucks in secondhand marijuana smoke, ingests cocaine and snacks on Ecstasy. All of her reactions—from getting the munchies to crawling on the ceiling—are played for laughs.

A boy, who looks to be 14 or so, challenges Harold and Kumar to a game of beer pong (which Harold wins). The teen then offers them eggnog which, unbeknownst to them, is spiked with some sort of drug (sending them into the claymation sequence). Several folks, including Santa, are shown smoking weed. A group sits in a bedroom, surrounding a pile of cocaine. A bag of coke is shot in mid-air; the resulting spray resembles snowfall.

Vanessa tells Kumar he can use her urine to pass a drug test.

Other Negative Elements

Someone is pummeled with a carton of eggs. Protesters urinate on a car and toss a pile of waste—possibly human—across its window. We see that same waste frequently throughout the rest of the film.

Conclusion

Jesus gets jealous when Neil Patrick Harris lures away his topless angels. Blood gurgles and glugs when Santa is shot out of the sky. A 2-year-old gets high on weed, cocaine and Ecstasy. One hundred f-words fan out in the resulting haze.

A TV commercial for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas tells us …

If New Line Cinema took all the sex, illegal substances, violence and foul language out of the new Harold and Kumar movie, it would look like this:

Kumar: "Harold?"

Harold: "Kumar?"

[End.]

While we can't give Harold & Kumar 3 a ton of credit for—well, much of anything, we can at least say this: They're truthful in their advertising.

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