I’m not the target for these movies, as I do not find the mere sight and/or mention of someone toking up to be funny. Nor do I get why it’s supposed to be. As with any joke, there’s got to be a payoff. Perhaps the sky-high are much forgiving. I thought the first movie, 2004’s sleeper hit “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” was OK. Never saw the second one.
Which brings me back to this potentially sacrilegious roasted chestnut: It’s OK, too. While that’s not exactly praise, even faint, I’ll say this: After having to stop the disc late one night about halfway through it, I genuinely wanted to see the other half the next night, and did. It’s very amiable and amusing, but I certainly smiled more than I laughed.
As one would expect, the story has as much weight as the smoke wafting from our characters’ mouths. A now-married Harold (John Cho, “Star Trek”) wants to please his scary father-in-law (Danny Trejo, “Machete”) by buying the ultimate Christmas tree to replace the one accidentally burned down by a big ol’ joint. Since the disaster was the fault of his estranged, infantile pal, Kumar (Kal Penn, TV’s “House”) insists on helping find a replacement.
Mind you, it’s Christmas Eve. This places the two on a path from one dangerous situation to another, with the filmmakers hoping that each is also dangerously funny. That depends on how funny you find the following:
• high-stakes beer pong games;
• a robot that makes waffles;
• a scar-faced mafia man (Elias Koteas, “Shutter Island”) with a super-horny teen daughter;
• Neil Patrick Harris jerking off on a woman’s back;
• Jesus Christ (Jake Johnson, TV’s “New Girl”) getting a hand job from a topless angel;
• Claymation genitalia;
• 3-D genitalia;
• Santa Claus (Richard Riehle, “Chillerama”) suffering a head wound;
• the stereotype of the scary black man (the RZA);
• the stereotype of the cheap Jewish man;
• and, of course, bong hits.
Personally, the highlight for me had nothing to do with Harold, nor Kumar, nor even the great Patton Oswalt, who appears in the prologue as a mall Santa dealing weed out of his car trunk. Nope, it was the running gag featuring the toddler daughter of the aforementioned Lennon’s tight-ass suburban father: She constantly, accidentally gets high — first from pot, later from X, but most notably from cocaine, which literally has her crawling on the ceiling. (See, it all goes back to my initial criticism of drug humor: There’s gotta be a payoff, and this diaper-clad preschooler steals the show.)
Warner Bros. Home Video’s “Extra Dope Edition” offers the option of seeing an extended cut, which adds only a few minutes, none of them worth the additional time. In the extras, Lennon participates in a half-dozen promo bits, presumably improvising, presumably for the web. He gets points for goodwill, which I’m willing to grant the film as a whole. While I can’t guarantee “yule crack up” (to borrow the tagline from another Christmas comedy), “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” has just enough bright moments amid admittedly many stupid ones to generate cheer. —Rod Lott