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Todd Strauss-Schulson
Kal Penn, John Cho, Neil Patrick Harris, Danny Trejo , Patton Oswalt, Isabella Gielniak, Bobby Lee
Writing Credits:
Jon Hurwitz (and characters), Hayden Schlossberg (and characters)

Christmas comes prematurely.

Following years of growing apart, Harold Lee (Cho) and Kumar Patel (Penn) have replaced each other with new friends and are preparing for their respective Yuletide celebrations. But when a mysterious package mistakenly arrive at Kumar’s door on Christmas Eve, his attempts to redirect it to Harold’s house ends with the “high grade” contents – and Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree – going up in smoke. With his in-laws out of the house for the day, Harold decides to cover his tracks, rather than come clean. Reluctantly embarking on another ill-advised journey with Kumar, through New York City, their search for the perfect replacement tree takes them through party heaven – and almost blows Christmas Eve sky high.

Box Office:
$19 million.
Opening Weekend
$12.954 million on 2875 screens.
Domestic Gross
$35.033 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1 (Theatrical Version Only)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (Extended Cut Only)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Version Only)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Version Only)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Version Only)
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min. (Theatrical Version) / 96 min. (Extended Cut)
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 2/7/2012

• Both Theatrical and Extended Versions of the Film
• “Through the Haze with Tom Lennon” Featurette
• “Bringing Harold and Kumar Claymation to Life” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Bonus DVD/Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 31, 2012)

Most holiday movies shoot for the kiddie or family audience, but every once in a while, something more “adult” comes along. That was the path followed by 2003’s Bad Santa and it’s the same audience sought by 2011’s A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas.

The third film in the series – after 2004’s Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and 2008’s Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay - Very comes set six years after the last flick’s events and finds the leads at different places in life. Kumar (Kal Penn) remains the eternal slacker; he got kicked out of med school after he failed a drug test, and he continues to do little more than get stoned. On the other hand, Harold (John Cho) lives the Wall Street life and is married to Maria (Paula Garcés), his cute neighbor from the first movie.

Harold goes through a mix of family pressures. Maria pushes him to have a baby, while her father Carlos (Danny Trejo) still doesn’t really accept him as a member of the family. Harold and Maria host her extended clan in a situation certain to create lots of stress for him.

Speaking of family, Kumar’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Ackles) tells him that she’s pregnant with his child. This acts as a wakeup call that prompts him to reassess his life and perhaps straighten up his act.

Before that can happen, a package for the long-departed Harold arrives at the old apartment he and Kumar used to share. Kumar delivers this to Harold and they reunite for the first time in two years.

When they open the package, they discover an enormous joint. Kumar wants to smoke it and lights it, but Harold refuses to participate. When the joint gets thrown away, it lands in the Christmas tree and torches it.

Carlos cares deeply about the need for a perfect Christmas tree, so Harold must locate a duplicate or risk the wrath of his father-in-law. This sets him on an adventure with Kumar as they chase after various replacement trees and experience the standard allotment of wacky hijinks along the way.

Neither of the first two Harold and Kumar movies made a ton of money, but I suspect they found good audiences on home video and fell into the “cult classic” territory. I can’t say either did much for me, but irreverent Christmas movies are hard to find, so I thought this one might provide a fun addition to the genre.

Alas, that wasn’t to be. On the positive side, I like the minor attempt to spice up the series via the change in the Harold/Kumar relationship. Guantanamo’s story opened literally right after the first movie’s events, while Very follows the span of many years, so we see real variations in the characters. Are they terribly different people? No, but it’s fun to the changes, and the moments in which Harold and Kumar reconnect are almost touching; all of us can relate to close relationships that fray, so those tentative moments provide surprising insight.

Don’t expect Very to be an emotional exploration of the bonds of friendship, though. The elements to which I occur offer a mild undercurrent and pass by quickly; they don’t create a major theme in the film.

Instead, Very can mostly be classified as “more of the same”: another Harold and Kumar, another quest. Instead of burgers or freedom, this time our heroes try to find a tree, and everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

While not a literal rehash of the first movie, Guantanamo felt awfully reminiscent of White Castle, and that continues to be true here. Some of the characters change and we get different situations, but the “quest” framework remains identical, and the prevalence of potty humor also continues to dominate.

When I saw White Castle, I did find some cleverness on display, and the same held true for Guantanamo. This continues to be the case for Very and its occasional laughs, but I think it too often goes gross/crass for their own sake. Too many of the scenes attempt a form of edginess that doesn’t really work, especially given how many sacred figures – literally – that Very lampoons. Sequences in which Jesus hangs out with hot topless babes and becomes jealous because Neil Patrick Harris steals his thunder or Santa gets shot in the head push no envelopes; they just seem tacky and like broad attempts to offend.

Very also displays a depressing reliance on inside jokes. We hear Harold referred to as “Sulu”, and Kumar alludes to working at the White House; both gags exist because Cho played Sulu in the 2009 Star Trek and Penn did work at the White House for a while. We also hear cracks about the crumminess of sequels. All of these seem forced and don’t amuse.

The film goes intentionally overboard with its 3D sequences, a trend that wears out quickly. We find a slew of slow-motion 3D segments, and these just make the movie plod. I understand that a film like this wants to mock the silliness of 3D, but a little of that would go a long way. The attempts to make fun of unnecessary 3D just end up as… unnecessary 3D.

Very occasionally amuses. Harris remains energetic as usual, and it’s cool to see his first Harold and Kumar stint after he came out of the closet; he makes fun of his gayness in an entertaining manner and he adds spark to the film. A few other gags find the target as well.

But there just aren’t enough to turn Very into a winner. Even at barely an hour and a half, it seems to run long and drag. The movie has its moments but remains hit or miss.

Catty footnote: Paula Garcés looks substantially bustier now than in the past. Did she get a boob job to add to the film’s 3D effects?

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Don’t expect any problems from this strong transfer.

Sharpness appeared quite good, as the movie showed consistently strong sharpness. Virtually no instances of softness materialized in this tight presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no problems, and print flaws seemed non-existent. Edge haloes remained absent as well.

Colors looked quite terrific, with a lush palette that appeared bright and vivid. The movie generally featured a warm, holiday tone, and the disc showed these hues nicely. The colors appeared clear and lively across the board. Black levels also were very good, and shadow detail seemed just fine. I felt consistently pleased with this image.

As for the audio, what you find will depend on which version of the film you watch. As I’ll discuss later, the Blu-ray provides two cuts. For the “Theatrical Edition”, you’ll find the expected DTS-HD MA 5.1 but the “Extended Cut” goes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

Seriously? I suspect most fans will opt for the “Extended Cut”, so it’s weak that the Blu-ray solely offers the lower quality option.

Because I only watched the longer version, I can’t comment on the DTS-HD track. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio lacks the higher resolution and warmth that’d come with the lossless DTS-HD, but it’s still pretty good.

Though the mix didn’t give us wall-to-wall theatrics, it managed to use the spectrum well. As expected, the film’s occasional action sequences boasted nice breadth and activity, and the 3D presentation expanded to the auditory realm as well. That meant some showy bits on occasion. While the soundscape didn’t stun us on a constant basis, it provided more than enough to succeed.

Audio quality seemed consistently solid. Speech appeared natural and distinctive; no edginess or other issues marred the dialogue. Music sounded warm and full, while effects showed good clarity and accuracy. When necessary, bass response came across as deep and tight. All of this lifted the track to “B” status.

A few extras fill out the set. We can view the film either in its theatrical version (89:39) or an “Extra Dope” extended cut (96:15). Since I never saw Very before I got this Blu-ray, I can’t comment on differences between them, but I wanted to mention that both appearhere.

Two featurettes follow. Through the Haze with Tom Lennon offer six segments that run for a total of eight minutes, 35 seconds. In these, we see actor Tom Lennon on the set as he discusses the movie and related elements. These take a firmly comedic tone and are mildly amusing.

Bringing Harold and Kumar Claymation to Life lasts three minutes, 32 seconds as it adds notes from director Todd Strauss-Schulson and writers/producers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. They tell us a little about the choice to offer the Claymation sequence, and we then see it compared to the original storyboards. I hoped for a little more concrete info about the logistics, but this is still a fairly enjoyable reel.

Three Deleted Scenes occupy a total of three minutes, 48 seconds. The first shows an alternate encounter with Rosenberg – but no Goldstein – while the second offers additional footage of Adrian and Todd in the closet. The final one gives us a true ending for Santa that involves horny teen Mary. The Rosenberg one’s probably the most entertaining, though it does make me wonder why it lacks Goldstein; maybe David Krumholtz initially couldn’t do the film so they added him later. The other scenes aren’t so hot, especially when we see Santa’s conclusion.

The disc opens with an ad for Project X. No trailer for Very appears here.

Unlike the crude but clever Bad Santa, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas simply seems crass for its own sake. The movie manages the occasional amusing segment but fizzles more than it delights. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals, decent audio and a handful of unexceptional supplements. I suspect the usual Harold and Kumar fans will enjoy this third outing, but it seems unlikely to win over new viewers.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.5 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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