August 5, 2008

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay


Reviewer: Dylan de Thomas
Rating (out of 5): **½

On paper, there's much to like about the sequel to the surprise hit about a stoned duo's misadventures on the way to a White Castle in Cherry Hill, New Jersey: it stars two likeable actors (John Cho and Kal Penn) reprising likeable roles, it has the nerve to turn the civil-rights nightmare that is Gitmo into a dick joke and it gleefully subverts racial stereotypes to such a degree, it almost becomes a post-racial stoner flick. Unfortunately, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay forgets one thing along its THC-addled way: to be all that funny.

The movie tries hard enough, to be sure - from almost the first frame the poop and pot jokes fly - but even if it doesn't really squander the goodwill from the first film, it also doesn't do much to, ahem, blaze its own trail.

Much of what there was to love about the first Harold & Kumar is on display here as well, with much bickering between the titular duo, improbable journeys involving impressive amounts of gratuitous nudity and, of course, Neil Patrick Harris, reprising his role as Neil Patrick Harris, again up to his sex-obsessed, deeply drug-addled ways.

This movie, also like the first, takes great pleasure in upending stereotypes about just about everything you could be find a stereotype for, from the Korean- and Indian-American pair, to hovel-dwelling rednecks, partying KKK members to the weekend proclivities of our current President.

Though the movie's jaunty enough, I'll be damned if I didn't stare stony-faced at it for much of its entire 107-minute running time. Surely, however, there are legions of the first film's fans that will enjoy the movie deeply, especially the unrated version which has an unusual "Dude, Change the Movie" interactive feature, allowing home viewers to choose which direction they want Harold & Kumar to go at certain points of the film like a stoner Choose Your Own Adventure book. Though it may seem cheesy, it's a fun addition, in particular to fans of our baked heroes.

The bonus disc includes the short (20 minute) documentary "The World of Harold and Kumar," above average for that sort of thing; and a ton of deleted scenes and fairly amusing outtakes.

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Posted by cphillips at August 5, 2008 2:11 PM
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