This is the first of the three Harold and Kumar titles (the first two being 2004's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and 2008's Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay) in which the weed-loving pair aren't actively coming or going, and it shows. A grinning but toothless comedy, this Christmas-themed outing pales in inventiveness compared to the original, which brought sweet, silly anarchy to its one-thing-leads-to-another plotting.
Ah well. We've all gotten a little older now, haven't we? Hell, Harold (Cho) doesn't even smoke pot anymore. Married and settled comfortably in the suburbs, he wants to give his wife Maria (Garcés) and her extended clan (including Trejo's gruff, growling Papí) the perfect Christmas. That plan goes up in smoke when the trimmed tree is accidentally torched during a visit by Harold's estranged best friend, Kumar (Penn), thus setting into motion a quest picture with an ingenuity deficit – enter Russian mobsters, a coked-out toddler – and a Holy Grail far less inspired than the first film's White Castle slider. Does it get a pretty good buzz going with a kicky Claymation nightmarescape, Cho and Penn's genial rapport, and the picturesque three-dimensioning of plumes of pot smoke and cocaine flurries? Sure. But those pleasures are fleeting – gone, if you will, with the weed.
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