Harold and Kumar are back, again

Stoner pals Harold and Kumar are back with a vengeance. At least, that’s how it seems in the latest movie, “A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.”

It shouldn’t be physically possible to get more ridiculous than the first flick (“Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle”), or its disappointing sequel (“Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay”), but veteran writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg still manage to shock and surprise. Perhaps a little too much.

A few years after the Guantanamo incident, Harold (Jon Cho, “Star Trek”) and Kumar (Kal Penn, “How I Met Your Mother”) have grown estranged. Harold has married his sweetheart Maria (Paula Garcés, “The Shield”) and moved to the suburbs, while Kumar is living in his old apartment in Hoboken, NJ amid a cluster of White Castle wrappers, and pot, which he scored from a mall Santa. When the two reunite, Kumar manages to burn down Harold’s Christmas tree, given to him by his fearsome father-in-law, and the duo embark on a quest to New York City to find a suitable replacement before he returns from midnight mass.

Stoner movies are a very specific breed of entertainment. They’re over the top, offensive and full of weed. If none of those things strike you as funny, then a stoner movie won’t appeal to you. That being said, the latest “Harold and Kumar” adventure does all of the above, multiplies it by three, and then throws in a child for added shock value.

Yes, one of the “highlights” of the movie is a little girl getting high and ingesting cocaine. Ruminate on that one.

The 3D in this movie is surprisingly decent. Part of this success stems from the fact that it doesn’t strive for believability; it doesn’t try to be phenomenal, so it appears better suited than in other movies that attempt feature it. And so, despite cringing whenever a weed cloud seemingly floats off the big screen, the 3D effect is to be appreciated.

On the plus side, no “Harold and Kumar” movie is complete without a guest appearance by Neil Patrick Harris, and this one does not dissapoint. Harris is, in a word, sublime. From his hilarious and eye-catching Broadway Christmas number to his witty dialogue, NPH is possibly the best part of the movie. His parting words to Harold and Kumar however, are chilling and disturbing. “See you in the fourth one.”

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Despite playing up the stoner movie stereotype to a “T” and making decent use of 3D, the base plot equation of “Harold + Kumar + pot + adventure = funny” has gotten old. The first movie was full of surprises and the second movie was passible, but “Harold and Kumar” installment number three is (despite its humor), stale. The novelty is lost. Possibly the only things making this movie new are the short while the two heroes are animated in classic “Rudolph” style – claymation, and shooting Santa Claus out of the sky with a sawed-off shot gun. Despite being ruined by the previews, both parts still manage to be hilarious in theaters.

See “A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas” if you don’t mind repeated plots, 3D and a Christmas theme. The movie isn’t terrible by any stretch, but it is not to be compared with the original.