A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas - John Cho and Kal Penn
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas - Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are going to wish they had noticed that Christmas tree was on fire a little sooner © 2011 New Line Productions

I didn’t partake of the first two Harold and Kumar joints, assuming they would be sophomoric stoner comedies — which actually is a pretty good description of this third installment. But there are enough laugh-out-loud moments here that only a total choad would tell you to pass on this dutchie.

The holiday merriment gets right to the pot-centric point with Kumar (Kal Penn) scoring weed from a department store Santa (Patton Oswalt). In the years that have passed since 2008’s Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, the two friends have gone their separate ways. Kumar still lives in the crappy apartment they once shared, happy to spend his days doing bongloads on the sofa. He’s too baked to stop watching TV even when girlfriend Vanessa (the returning Danneel Harris) arrives to announce she is pregnant.

Meanwhile in Manhattan, Harold (John Cho) has become the kind of well-paid Wall Streeter who has to dodge eggs thrown by tax-the-rich protesters. His now-wife Maria (Paula Garces, who has appeared in all three H&K movies) has baby fever, and Harold has given up weed because he fears its effects on his fertility.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas - John Cho and Paula Garces
Harold (John Cho) and wife Maria (Paula Garces) pick the wrong time to get romantic © 2011 Warner Bros

Harold’s frighteningly intense father-in-law Carlos (Machete’s Danny Trejo) brings over a very special Christmas tree… which naturally gets destroyed as soon as Kumar arrives with a misdirected package. Our Heroes spend the rest of the movie trying to track down a replacement, a quest that takes them from a horny teenage virgin’s debauched Christmas party to the clutches of Ukrainian gangsters to a musical spectacular where they appear as wooden soldiers.

Neil Patrick Harris, back for his third H&K cameo, nearly steals the movie as the ridiculously lecherous star of that stage show. In the movie’s reality, “NPH” is a crass, crack-smoking homophobe who only pretends to be gay to seduce unsuspecting women. Other nothing-is-sacred characters include Jesus Christ, who appears with a pair of topless angels at a nightclub in heaven, and Santa Claus (the real one), seen toking from a peppermint-striped bong on his flying sleigh.

Other highlights range from the self-referential (a joke about star Penn’s real-life Hollywood hiatus to work for the White House) to the smutty (nuns showering together wearing only their wimples) to the silly (a helpful robotic Wafflebot hates pancakes so much he says they are served in hell). There’s also a very R-rated sight-gag reference to the movie A Christmas Story that has to be seen to be believed.

Scenes that fully exploit the 3D aspect — flying eggs, a high-speed beer-pong ball and exploding confetti — aren’t worth watching the movie through what looks like gray mesh. The 3D glasses make everything so dismal you’ll want to throw the damned things across the theater. Stop the madness!

On the positive side, an animated newspaper-clippings segment and a claymation version of a drug trip are pretty snazzy. All three movies have been written by the team of Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, but this one marks the debut of director Todd Strauss-Schulson.

As NPH says when he signs off from his scene, “Merry Christmas, guys! We’ll see you in the fourth one!”

[Rating: 3 stars]


James Dawson

Jim is Film Review Online's Los Angeles based reviewer.