Starring: John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris
Director: Jon Hurwitz and Hay Schlossberg
Release Date: April 25, 2008
Running Time: 102 min
MPAA Rating: R
Distributor: Warner Bros
Man, these guys have had a rough couple of days.
Picking up immediately after the end of the first movie, Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay does not waste any time getting back into the story. Having just professed his affection for his neighbor Maria, Harold (John Cho) decides he and Kumar (Kal Penn) need a vacation. This is a stoner movie, so it only makes sense that they end up attempting to go to Amsterdam. Each of the guys has their own agenda for wanting to go there. Harold doesn’t want to wait for Maria, who just happens to be there on business, and Kumar wants to go for the same reason most people who travel there want to go: legal marijuana. So here we are, staring down the barrel of inevitability wherein the sequel to a story of a couple of pot smokers heads them to Amsterdam. The very idea is obvious and lame. But low and behold something original happens; they don’t make it there. Why? Because Kumar cannot wait to land to partake in his favorite herbal enhancement and somewhere along the way they are suspected of being terrorists and sent to Guantanamo Bay.
After a very short stint at Gitmo, the guys escape by simply walking out and catching a boat to Miami. They track down a former classmate conveniently living in the area and embark on a trek to Texas to enlist the help of Kumar’s ex-girlfriends fiancé, who may be able to use his Washington connections to help the guys out. Sounds simple, but in true stoner movie fashion, the quest is anything but. Along the way their encounters include, but are not limited to a bottomless party (both male and female), their infiltration of a KKK rally, inexplicably meeting up with a drug addled Neil Patrick Harris on his way to a whorehouse, and getting high with President George W. Bush.
Believe me when I say, those aren’t even the most potentially offensive parts of the movie.
As much as I hate the term, a movie like this is almost critic-proof, in that being the sequel to a story featuring pre-existing characters of popularity, it barely matters how stupid the movie may be, the target audience will see it anyway. The only thing is this one is actually pretty good. By good, I mean funny. And by funny, I mean horrendously offensive. I almost used the term politically incorrect but that term doesn’t apply here. Believe it or not, this movie has something to say about a lot of things, not the least of which being racial and social profiling. On one level, it is garden variety slapstick, gross-out, pot smoking humor and on the other, the movie works as a blazing commentary on our nations prejudices. I will not waste anyone’s time getting too deep into the discussions presented in the movie – they can be left to be debated by the people the message is intended for in the first place. The movie definitely picks a side but the satire is masked in its own idiocy so as not to be too preachy.
I had minor issues with the movie itself, but those criticisms are petty and unfair. Like the demographic of the passengers of the plane on its way to Amsterdam seemed grossly out of place. Having never been there before I cannot speak first hand for the type of passenger that should be on a plane headed towards that particular destination, I just imagine it being different than it was in the movie. And like I mentioned, the actual escape from Guantanamo Bay seemed overly simplified. Like I said, petty, but worth noting.
All in all, Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay kept what worked in the first film and scraped what didn’t. Former Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry as an overzealous and under informed agent of Homeland Security cracked me up every time he was on screen. And as much of an easy and logical decision as it would have been to bulk up Neil Patrick Harris’ part in this movie, the filmmakers wisely chose to use him again in small doses, forgoing the idea that more is better. Lord knows the last thing this audience needs is to be over stimulated.
And there’s the rub
*** out of ****