Does the word "stoner" in "stoner comedy" refer to the characters in the film or the person watching it? Because if it's the latter then you came to the right guy for a Harold & Kumar review: I'm famous for my recreational drug use! You can tell by the way I casually, and very naturally, toss drugs-related patter into the conversation such as "PASS THE DOOBIE" or "WHAT A DELICIOUS BONG". Authentic! I'm like a character off The Wire.
But even if you're not into drugs (you square), Harold & Kumar features a string of comic set pieces, each sillier than the last, that may make you feel like you're getting wasted. By the time you've witnessed a waffle-making robot say "I LOVE YOU" you may wonder if someone has slipped something into your popcorn (eg, some DRUGS POWDER). And the real Christmas miracle is this: most festive Hollywood movies make me want to go on a killing spree, yet somehow this film left me with a warm, Christmassy glow even as I watched a toddler rub cocaine into her gums. Your move, Jesus!
Now, here is the part where I talk about the plot. I know some of you skip this bit, so in order to make sure you pay attention I've hidden a special Christmas gift for you somewhere in the paragraph. You're welcome! The events of the film take place six years after their last adventure, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, which I have to confess I haven't seen (screw you, research!). Harold (Cho) and Kumar (Penn) have drifted apart and now have new best friends. Harold is rapidly ascending the corporate ladder and living in suburbia with a wife who wants a baby "fucked into her", while Kumar is still a pot-loving slacker. [A DELICIOUS GLASS OF WARM MULLED WINE]. The two are reunited on Christmas Eve when a mysterious package appears outside Kumar's apartment, containing an enormous joint (not as big as the "Camberwell Carrot" from Withnail & I but still big). This joint ends up burning down the prize Christmas tree that Harold's intimidating Latino father-in-law (Trejo, cornering the market in intimidating Latinos) grew from a sapling, and so Harold and Kumar embark on an adventure across New York to replace the tree and save Christmas.
Along the way we're treated to a Busby Berkeley-style musical number featuring series regular Harris, Santa taking a gunshot wound to the head, a variation on the old tongue-frozen-to-a-pole gag (you can guess ... you didn't guess did you? It's a penis stuck to a pole), a baby exposed to various narcotics, a hilarious sentimental montage explaining Trejo's childhood, and even a claymation sequence. It’s all held together by the charm and likeabilty of Cho and Penn as the titular duo, who bring a surprising amount of warmth to the film. And you've got to hand it to director Strauss-Schulson not only for keeping the comic energy high, but also for using 3D chiefly as a tool to enable characters to exhale pot smoke into the audience. Your move, Jesus... I mean... James Cameron.
So in the end, it may be hit and miss, and it drags a little towards the end of its brief 89 minute running time, but it's funny. Really funny. So brace yourself: I'm dropping four stars on this thing. It's as slickly made and festively gift-wrapped a Hollywood product as say, Home Alone ... but with a 3D claymation cock.