A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
Directed by: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Kal Penn, John Cho
Harold and Kumar should have quit while they were ahead.
The original Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, while not quite worthy of the “classic” stamp, was a downright hilarious tale of two stoner-buddies’ epic journey to mini-hamburger heaven, while Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the second installment, was markedly less inspired but still good for a few cheap laughs.
Unfortunately, our culture continues to demand third helpings of every marginal film franchise in existence, so movie-goers worldwide must endure mind-numbing drivel to the tune of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.
The title says it all. Forcing the cultural hot button of the 3D-movie onto a B-comedy insults the innovation of the former and piles a layer of superfluous cheese on the latter. A new Harold & Kumar movie might have been a welcome addition to the fall film lineup, but prematurely jamming it into the Christmas-movie mould adds “unseasonal” to H&K 3’s heap of dubious accolades. Needless to say, my expectations entering the theatre weren’t too high, though the possibility of a pleasant surprise still lingered. No such luck.
The premise is simple: a few years after the events of the previous film, the movie finds Harold Lee a successful, married businessman, desperate for the approval of his father-in-law, and Kumar Patel still a shiftless idler whose marijuana consumption shows no signs of slowing down. A mysterious package reunites the separated duo, and when Kumar unwittingly torches Harold’s father-in-law’s perfect Christmas tree, the old friends are forced to work together to procure a new one, which, for notorious stoner-slackers Harold and Kumar, proves no easy task.
Laughs, which should abound along such plotlines, were few and far between. Lowlights include a small typecast role for Amir Blumenfeld, who is nearly impossible to separate from his character on CollegeHumor’s Jake and Amir, numerous shameless meta-references, an unnecessary claymation segment, and a short-lived tangent in which Santa Claus takes a shotgun bullet to the face.
As expected, the film’s saving grace was the Harold and Kumar universe’s fictionalized version of Neil Patrick Harris, who reprises his role from the first two films and delivers an outrageous Christmas-themed musical number as only NPH can.
If your inner adolescent tells you that the Harold & Kumar 3 box must be ticked off on your to-see list, treat its viewing as a shout-out to the Ghost of Comedy Past and nothing more, and you won’t be disappointed. Expect comedic gold, and you will. As NPH bows out of his refreshingly funny segment, he takes a hammer to the next wall in proclaiming, “See you in the fourth one!”
One can only hope the franchise cuts its losses before then, allowing its fans to remember a glorious time when sophomoric penis-and-boob jokes still made us laugh.
Jack and Jill
Starring: Adam Sandler
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
1 out of 5
I went to see Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill this week. Sadly, I must conclude that it fell somewhat short of my expectations.
Take a moment to make sure you fully understand what I mean when I say this, because I’m being completely serious. If after careful consideration you still don’t follow me, take a gander at Jack and Jill’s current Metacritic rating, as I did for curiosity’s sake. Seriously, take a look. Last I checked, it was a 24/100. That’s what I was expecting, and do you know what? It was worse than that. I didn’t bloody get it, and I want my money back. But it’s not coming back. It belongs to Adam Sandler now.
Given that you’ve read at least one disparaging film review since Your Highness flailed its way into theatres not so long ago, I’ll try to spare you the usual fire-and-brimstone treatment and provide only the essentials. First, the extent of the damage: Jack and Jill is so bad that it actually made me physically anxious.
I wish I were kidding, but I’m not. I’m almost surprised I didn’t break out in hives, so emotionally battered was I in the wake of Hurricane Sandler and his painfully limited repertoire of silly voices and lifeless, uninspired gags.
If nothing else, though, we can at least say that the man is consistent; arm him with a shitty premise (the ol’ twin-brother-and-sister-played-by-the-same-actor shtick, in this case), you know he’ll do everything in his power to ensure that the result is an equally shitty movie experience. Bravo, sir. Bravo.
Given the totality of its awfulness, at times the details as to why Jack and Jill misses the mark so completely seem to bleed together into one sprawling, intricate mosaic of suck. It’s what I imagine a great work of art would be like if any of the great artists had lived in a trailer park and painted with Cheez Whiz and children’s tears.
Still, some of the most problematic elements are so blatant that they can’t help but jump out at you: the plot is razor-thin, the acting is virtually nonexistent, the funniest character by a generous margin is someone’s pet bird and most of the situational gags are uncomfortable and nothing more.
As if this weren’t bad enough, what’s left when these essential components have been stripped away is little more than a hastily thrown-together assemblage of product placements, bizarre cameos (Al Pacino plays the sex-offender version of himself for some weird reason), overtly racist humour and scenes that often begin or end without any real context. “Why is Adam Sandler driving a Jet Ski around a swimming pool?” you might, for instance, find yourself asking.
The answer to this and a multitude of other, similar questions is that we simply don’t know. Indeed, we may never know; in more ways than one, how the Sandler and Co. creation could even have been conceived or put in motion is a complete enigma.
In the end, what we are ultimately left with is a version of comedy gone awry. Too crude to be considered a children’s movie and too painfully unfunny to appeal to adults, Jack and Jill is left to occupy a lonely middle ground indeed. Pass.