Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008)

(In theaters, April 2008) Wow. Who could have thought that a stoner comedy could lead to such a politically-charged sequel? A surefire reflection of the times we live in, this sequel to the unexpectedly hilarious Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle features our two protagonists being mistaken for terrorists, tortured in Guantanamo Bay, escaping to the mainland USA and being chased by overbearing DHS agents until they befriend a stoner George W. Bush. And I’m not mentioning the agent who wipes himself with the Bill of Rights, the fierce anti-racism, Neil Patrick Harris as “Neil Patrick Harris” and the triumphant romanticism of a mathematical poem. Unexpected delights in what is, after all, a teen stoner comedy that could have been perfectly happy showing the two protagonists going to another chain of restaurants. While the film doesn’t scale the absurd heights of the original, its mixture of political content and low-brow comedy is utterly fascinating. The film seldom shies away from comic reversals (the sequence in which the two protagonists interrupt a street basketball game is a highlight) and re-reversals, but it’s the caricature of Bush as a frat-boy stoner that sticks in mind, both savage and yet oddly sympathetic at the same time. Fans of the first film may not be blown out of their minds, but they’ll be satisfied, and cultural critics won’t stop thinking about the ways this film uses the legacy of the Bush administration as comic fodder, blatantly assuming the audience’s prejudices regarding DHS paranoia, Guantanamo torture and Bush’s weaknesses. Utterly fascinating… plus it’s got nudity.

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