Friday, April 25, 2008

Harold & Kumar Go to the Bank

Harold & Kumar
Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Release: 04/25/08
Rated R
1 hour, 42 minutes

Second-Run Seats ($$)

John Cho (American Pie) and Kal Penn (Van Wilder) reprise their respective roles as Harold 'Roldi' Lee and Kumar Patel in this sequel, which picks up immediately after the end of their adventure to White Castle. On a whim, they decide to go to Amsterdam to hang with Cho's love, Maria, and smoke legal pot. A wild misunderstanding later, the fellas find themselves escaping Guantanamo Bay, hoofing it from Miami to Texas, and crashing the wedding of Kumar's ex, Vanessa, to save their hides (and maybe, just maybe, save Vanessa from the biggest mistake of her life! *gasp*)

Screwball comedies hold a special place in my heart. I'm one of the few folks who have seen and would admit to seeing the entire American Pie series. I'm talking all six films! It goes without saying that I'd be in line to check out Harold & Kumar 2. I find it funny that John Cho, a day player from the American Pie series, has mustered as much, if not more, success than the major cast members of AP.

You know things are going downhill when H&K2 blasts off with bathroom humor within the first minute and elevates the jokes to gross-out self-gratification within the next five. Creators Hurwitz and Schlossberg crafted a clever balance of stoner humor, road-trip debacles and racial stereotypes the first time around so, geniuses they are, they decided to recycle an identical formula for the sequel. But if rehashed sequels prove anything its that when you try to re-invent the wheel you'll only get a hollow tube of hot air. I don't even want to dissect the many ways this went wrong, but let me recap the good and the bad.

The Good: The original supporting cast returns, including Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie), David Krumholtz (Serenity), Christopher Meloni (Wet Hot American Summer), and, most of all, Neil Patrick Harris (Starship Troopers). NPH totally owns this movie and is the singular most reason to watch it. He delivers some awesome drug-induced lines and you gotta love his sexual escapades. Missi Pyle (Dodgeball) and Beverly D'Angelo (Vacation) also lend their talents to the film. I don't know if I was happy to see them working, or sad to see them working in this. Another winning aspect is a rocking soundtrack, which helped me escape during the bad parts.

The Bad: Rob Corddry (Semi-Pro) plays Homeland Security Agent Ron Fox. I normally enjoy his roles, but this is just too much. Fox is beyond the definition of an ignant bigot. The racial slurs worked in small doses the first time through, but Fox and the other stereotypes in H&K2 are just uncouth and unclever. Also, Roldi and Kumar have a run-in with a certain government official and...No! Just No! I can in no way accept the interaction between these guys and this individual. I know it's just a movie, but the laid-back, cool-dude persona is just beyond reproach.

Dirty Undies
H&K2 is purely gratuitous. I lost count of the naked booty being flaunted, maybe because I was preoccupied admiring the trim. Roldi and Kumar go bottomless, too. I also got to see my second penis on film within the span of a week. There are also a few topless women and tons of lewd and crude sexual comments courtesy of Kumar and NPH. Physical altercations, insulting racial and cultural commentary, extensive drug use and all-around vulgarity make H&K2 a standout in this category. Shame they couldn't find a balance in quantity versus quality.

The Money Shot
Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle was a funny movie. Hell, I loved it so much it now rests prominently on my DVD shelf. Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay may garner a second viewing, but it won't be coming to live with me and its older, more cultured brother.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. I can't wait to see this movie. Kal Penn was my downstairs neighbor for the past few months as he taught at UPenn. I'd run into him often on the elevator and I must say, it was funny to watch him refuse autographs from fangirls who'd try to chase him down...

  2. He seems like he's a cool guy. I am all for supporting his rising star, I just wish H&K2 had been as awesome as the first.

    Here's hoping Kal Penn gets more starring roles in films like The Namesake!

  3. I also found HK2 disappointing.

    The first film was great because it went disgusting in new and creative ways. The second go-around felt tired and relied far too much on cliched setups that failed to deliver an appropriate punch line. Rob Corddry's role also went way, way too long and the government's-out-to-get-us joke got old within the first half hour.

    All that being said, I probably would've enjoyed HK2 more if I hadn't seen, and enjoyed, the first one.

  4. I think you're right. If this was your first time with these guys it would've been funnier. Seeing as how us 'experts' have been around the block with them, it just didn't cut it.