Maybe it was when the baby huffs cocaine and starts crawling on the ceiling like she’s in some “Exorcist”-meets-“Trainspotting” mashup. Or when Santa Claus gets shot in the face. Or every single second Neil Patrick Harris is onscreen. Who knows?
Eventually, though, and despite our lowered expectations headed into the theater with recollections of the clunker that was the franchise’s 2008 sequel in our minds, we happily admitted that “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” doesn’t just have its share of funny moments, but in fact is a funny movie.
Not that everyone agrees. There are a lot of critics who weren’t taken with these shenanigans, who found it tired and predictable. But such reviews are in the minority. The majority of critics maintain the stoney laughs are many, the 3-D effects are ridiculous (in a good way), and that the third “Harold & Kumar” deserves a place on every college kid’s DVD shelf, right next to a copy of the original flick.
“This is indeed a Christmas movie, and when a mysterious package arrives addressed to Harold, Kumar knows he must deliver it in person. As for the package … well, I’m spoiling nothing by telling you it contains a ginormous doobie, but what it really contains is a message of holiday love that will bring together the best-loved East Asian-meets-South Asian comedy duo of the 21st century. Also, it will burn down Harold’s father-in-law’s beloved Christmas tree and send Harold and Kumar out into the streets on Christmas Eve to negotiate with faux-ghetto tree salesmen (one of them the rapper RZA), introduce a baby to marijuana, cocaine and untold other illicit substances, interrupt a party of naked lesbian nuns and encounter a genuine, if distressingly gory, Christmas miracle.” — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon
“Rude things — bodily fluids, body parts — along with glass shards and smoke rings (of a particularly potent sort of smoke) fly from the screen in such profusion that you may want to carry an umbrella into the theater with you to deflect them all. The makers of the comedy fully understand that 3-D is a gimmick much overused these days. And understanding that, they overuse it themselves in such a way as to cannily comment on the clichéd nature of the gimmick while expertly exploiting it to hilarious effect.” — Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times
“After serving up a sly fable of minority empowerment in ’Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle’ (2004) and gleefully lampooning George W. Bush’s America in ’Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay’ (2008), scribes Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg seem determined to avoid any hint of subversion here, content to serve up a crudely irreverent holiday laffer along the lines of ’Bad Santa,’ if nowhere near as scathing. For a movie that sees fit to have jolly old St. Nick take a bullet to the face mid-sleigh ride, this vulgar romp is a generally harmless, heartwarming affair, a cinematic Christmas cookie almost sweet and flaky enough to cover the fact that it’s laced with hash, cocaine and assorted bodily fluids, blood included.” — Justin Chang, Variety
“[It] wobbles off the rails more often than it ought to. The first two ’Harold & Kumar’ movies made no effort to stamp out racial stereotypes; instead, they reveled in them. But this third installment, as visually clever as it is, relies too much on dumb, crude jock humor: There seem to be more buxom, semi-naked girls clattering around in high heels than I recall from either of the earlier pictures. And a sequence in which Harris reveals that he’s not really gay but just fakes it so he can get girls seems genuinely perverse, and not in the good way: Maybe watching Harris ogle the comely cuties in his chorus line is supposed to be funny, but it just comes off as crass and forced.” — Stephanie Zacharek, Movieline
The Final Word
“All in all, it’s a frequently funny return to form that embraces several universal truths: that Harold and Kumar are better off together than not (for our sake if not their own), that stoner comedies need not be lazy with their juvenile wares, and that the combination of waffles and robots is indeed an awesome one.” — William Goss, Film.com