Friday, November 11, 2011

What I Saw: A Very Harold And Kumar 3D Christmas

What I Saw:   A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

I admit it. Harold & Kumar was one of my most anticipated films of the year. It may seem strange that someone who runs an Oscar prediction blog would also have a taste for White Castle cheeseburgers, but what can I say, I’m a complex person. I fell in love with this franchise during the first movie, and have been a loyal follower ever since. I even saw it in 3D!

So for my review today, I thought it might be fun to apply Oscar logic to a film that few actually believe will appear at the Kodak theater. Please note that with the exception of the final category (best song), these don’t show up in my actual predictions.

The Lord Of The Rings Argument. We’ve heard all season long that Harry Potter will attempt an Oscar run for the final installment of the franchise, so why can’t Harold & Kumar do the same? It’s a classic hero tale of comrades setting out on a journey (to White Castle). Along the way they meet exotic creatures (cheetahs, unicorns, flying reindeer), make new friends (NPH), undergo imprisonment (Guantanamo Bay), celebrate with royalty (George W. Bush), and are helped by magical beings (Santa Claus). The final installment even goes out of its way to point back to classic moments from earlier in the series (Kumar’s medical knowledge, particular types of sandwiches, and an actual return to the famed White Castle!) And unlike that greedy Peter Jackson, they are unlikely to go back and make a two-part prequel after their win (The Hobbit).

The J. Edgar Argument. Oscar loves it when a straight actor plays a gay character, so why can’t the reverse be true? An openly out and proud Neil Patrick Harris not only plays a straight character, but a straight version of himself! It’s a fresh take on the epistemology of the closet, and the ultimate actor’s challenge to not only imagine another lifestyle, but to reenact the painful social constructions that define hetero-masculinity. And then, in a surprise turn, (SPOILER ALERT): he is a gay actor pretending to be a straight actor who pretends to be a gay actor. (END OF SPOILER.)  Eat your heart out Leonardo DiCaprio.

The George Clooney Argument. Sure, Oscar respects Clooney for his political films like Good Night And Good Luck, Syriana and The Ides Of March, but Kal Penn not only worked in the White House for President Obama, he also got high with George W. Bush. What better bridge-builder to bring compromise and common sense to our tumultuous political times?

Ending The White Out. With Billy Crystal replacing Eddie Murphy as Oscar host, the Academy needs to do some additional work to bring racial parity to the show. Sure, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are locks, but what about the men? This film boasts two actors of color, representing both Indian and Korean descent. And true fans of the series know that it actually does quite a lot to break down racial stereotypes. If they’re concerned about vote splitting, Warner Bros. could even do some category fraud and campaign one of them as supporting. But they better push Cho for the lead, since Harold is the first name in the title.

Nudity. Move over Kate Winslet, these guys are packin! Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender may have garnered that NC-17 rating, but Cho and Penn embody the heights of male vulnerability by revealing themselves in their claymated and frozen states.

Best Ensemble. In addition to Cho, Penn, Harris and the fantastic Danny Trejo, the final installment scored appearances from Santa Claus, Jesus Christ and the Wafflebot! I even heard a rumor that Santa did all his own stunts.

The Release Date. November is clearly in the Oscar corridor, and the Christmas theme allows theaters to keep showing the film through the December rush.

Visual Effects And Animation. Yes, if you are going to see this film, it is worth the extra price for the 3D. Unlike those other movies that use 3D as a gimmick to steal your money, Harold & Kumar utilize it as a knowing reflection on today’s cinematic times. Hollywood has been blowing smoke in our face and throwing rotten eggs at us for years. Why not reward the film that embraces that tradition? They even include some claymation in honor of the Christmas tradition.

Universal Life Lessons. Harold learns to relax and enjoy life. Kumar learns to take responsibility. They both learn the true meaning of friendship. As if this isn’t enough, they take it a step further and reveal that the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about trees or ornaments, but rather (SPOLIER ALERT) about finally telling off your father in law (END OF SPOILER).

Actual Oscar Chances:

One serious Oscar possibility, since the film is a musical, comes in the best song category, where I currently have it ranked number 13 in my predictions. Before you laugh, remember that South Park was nominated in this category for “Blame Canada,” so we know that the music branch can have a sense of humor when given the chance.

I’m thinking that the song with the best chances is Gregtronic’s “It’s A Very Jolly Day (For You To Die),” which plays during the claymation portions of the film. It has a catchy upbeat tempo that harkens back to the Christmas songs of old.

You can listen to the song HERE. Sensitive readers should be warned that there is some crass language. (Although to be fair, sensitive readers probably should have stopped reading this post a long time ago.)

My Lamb Score: 2 out of 5 Lambs
What is a lamb score? Click HERE to learn more.
Read more of my reviews HERE.
As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!


  1. Great stuff! I honestly do not care for seeing this one at all, not really my type of film. But seems you did not like it too much, so I suppose I am not missing out, am I?

  2. Thanks Matt. I enjoyed it well enough, but largely for the nostalgia factor. Had I been writing reviews when the first one came out, it would have gotten glowing ratings from me.

    But I'd say that if your gut tells you that this isn't your type of film, then you are most likely right. It's not something that I would recommend for folks who aren't already fans of the franchise, and there's nothing that's going to surprise you in the cinematic sense.

  3. For those who are giving good reviewes to this movie are either 13-14 year old teenagers or adults who have no clue how to use their brain.

  4. Thanks Espana! I agree that this isn't their best work, although I think some people might enjoy it precisely because it allows them to rest their brains, while being just self-aware enough to recognize the absurdity of it all.