Review: ‘A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas 3D’ is Madcap, Drug-Fueled Surrealism

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is the world’s first interracial stoner buddy holiday comedy to be presented in the third dimension. It’s sure to be the last, too. A twin celebration of the joys of yuletide and bong rips, the flick is an appropriately manic and thoroughly nonsensical entrant in the popular trilogy that’s celebrated the joys of White Castle in one movie and condemned Guantanamo Bay in the next. This Christmas takedown is a one-time only feat, a symphony of pristine ridiculousness.

You go into a Harold & Kumar flick expecting a heavy dose of weed-tinged surrealism, and director Todd Strauss-Schulson, working with the familiar team of writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, doesn’t disappoint. This is a madcap farce that sends the now estranged heroes (John Cho and Kal Penn) on a frantic Christmas Eve journey into New York City to find a replacement tree.

But, really, the plot is completely incidental. The real star of the show is all the crazy stuff that happens. The creative team gives us a magical joint, a drug-addled baby, an enraged Mafioso (Elias Koteas), a Stop-Motion drug trip, an absurd church heist fantasy and a Christmas sweater-baring Danny Trejo. Neil Patrick Harris? He’s back too and in a fine encapsulation of the modus operandi for the project as a whole, he leads an elaborate holiday dance revue before getting very, very dirty in his dressing room.

The movie is filled with self-references, from Tom Lennon’s assertion that today is “three D — daddy daughter day,” to a nod to Penn’s real life White House experience and the magical appearance of a White Castle. The makers adopt an old-school approach toward the unabashedly superfluous 3D, hurling fourth wall-shattering effects straight at the audience. It would be fine if a giant Claymation penis never again leapt at me from the big screen, but as a one-time experience from the writers who gave us “battle shits” it gets a laugh.

This is the least structured of the H&K flicks, and after the scattershot Escape from Guantanamo Bay that’s saying something. Sure there’s the aforementioned insignificant plot, the familiar allusions to the sanctity of friendship and a moral about growing up and putting down the pipe. But 3D Christmas is really about its spectacle, both of the shiny Christmas movie variety and the ribald drug fueled sort that’s the hallmark of this franchise.

Its makers offer a flashy, freewheeling experience that is so adamant about not taking itself seriously that you sometimes wonder what you’re doing there. But just when the self-doubt starts creeping in, Santa gets shot in the head.

The Upside: Harold and Kumar are as funny and madcap as ever, their adventures filled with the usual drug-fueled surrealism.

The Downside: A real plot might have been nice. More NPH!

On the Side: If you love this franchise, the movie’s worth the 3D price, and I’ll choose to believe it wasn’t just incorporated as a price-gouging gimmick.

Grade: B

Robert Levin has written dozens (if not hundreds) of reviews for Film School Rejects since his first piece in 2009. He is the film critic for amNewYork, one of the most widely circulated daily newspapers in New York City and the United States, and the paper's website He's a Brooklyn resident who tries very hard not to be a cliche.

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