A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)

(In theaters, December 2011) I’m not sure there’s a more conceptually offensive film out there in theaters at this end of 2011: Whether you’re talking about characters who enjoy the stoner lifestyle, a toddler doing cocaine, graphically-portrayed phalluses, Santa Claus getting shot in the face, nude nuns, angels performing sexual favours on a cracked version of Neil Patrick Harris or a murderous waffle-making robot, a straight-up description of the film’s content reads like a decadent horror show at the end of civilization.  And yet, the series’ considerable irreverent charm is intact, and a solid core of moral value underlies the entire film: the story daringly picks up six years later with a grown-up Harold and a arrested-development Kumar, then throws them together in order to come up with a relatively mainstream-friendly conclusion.  In-between, though, there’s plenty of refreshing hijinks, quasi-experimental segments (just wait for the Claymation stuff, or the 3D-tableau “plan”) and meta-fictional laughs about the actor’s other careers/roles, 3D gags (I almost regret not seeing this one in 3D) and more irreverence than you’d think possible.  It’s still a silly comedy for people who like silly comedies, but it’s hilarious, fast-paced, sweet without being cloying and a perfectly self-aware third installment in a series –for one thing, it doesn’t seem as if it’s simply coasting on recycling its previous gags.  Both Kal Penn and John Cho are great in the title role, with Neil Patrick Harris once again stealing the show and Danny Trejo joining the cast as a pitch-perfect father-in-law.  If you’re a fan of the series, don’t miss it.

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