Most movies do nothing with 3-D beyond charge a few extra bucks for admission. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, the long-awaited second sequel to the 2004 stoner classic, does just about everything with 3-D. The film is distinguished by a glorious sense of excess. The operating principle seems to be “Why not?” Why not boast cameos from Jesus and Santa Claus? Why not take advantage of 3-D by having Danny Trejo ejaculate on a Christmas tree in all three dimensions? Why not throw in a Claymation sequence that quickly escalates from whimsical to apocalyptic? Why not riff on Neil Patrick Harris’ real-life sexuality in the darkest possible fashion? It’d be tempting to argue that Christmas elevates shit flying at the screen in 3-D to an art form, but much of the film’s shaggy stoner charm lies in its aggressive artlessness. The filmmakers throw everything at the audience, literally and metaphorically, and the results are exhilarating rather than exhausting.
Fresh off a real-world stint as a staffer with the Obama administration, Kal Penn returns to his signature role of a stoner whose THC-based existence puts him at odds with old friend John Cho. As 3D Christmas opens, a chubby, shaggy Penn is steadfastly refusing to accept the responsibilities of adulthood that the married, professional, accomplished Cho embraces. The two estranged friends are reunited when a mysterious package for Cho is laid on Penn’s door, and the two men eventually set out to find a Christmas tree, in a quest that’s every bit as epic and incident-packed as their maiden journey to procure White Castle hamburgers.
Franchise favorite Harris returns as a crazed parody of his public persona. The film posits Harris’ public profession of homosexuality as nothing more than a front for his rapacious heterosexuality. It’s an old gag redeemed by Harris’ split-second transformations from breezy, gregarious charmer to dead-eyed, vaguely feral sexual predator. The consistently funny, surprisingly sweet 3D Christmas justifies both its questionable existence and its rampant, indiscriminate, and fun use of 3-D. And that, friends, is a true Christmas miracle.