A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Warner Brothers

Rated R for drug use, crude humor, pervasive profanity, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and violence.

Holiday-Themed Sequel Features “Pot”-pourri Of Stoner Hijinks

As with Cheech and Chong’s string of classic stoner comedies of a generation ago, it looks like longevity might also be in store for relatively nerdy Harold & Kumar’s series of similarly themed marijuana misadventures. Co-stars John Cho and Kal Penn reprise their roles as the title characters here, with the movie marking the latter’s return to the big screen after signing on to serve in the Obama Administration a couple of years ago.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, the third installment in the franchise, unfolds a half-dozen years after the conclusion of the pot-smoking pair’s previous outing, Escape From Guantanamo. At the point of departure, we learn that the pals have grown apart over the interim, ostensibly because Harold has married, settled in suburbia and taken a job on Wall Street while Kumar has continued to enjoy the life of a carefree bachelor after getting kicked out of med school for flunking a drug test.

Obviously, it is just a matter of time before the predictable plotline must find an excuse to reunite the inseparable protagonists. That moment arrives when Kumar decides to deliver a package addressed to his ex-roommate, which came to their old apartment. Although the suddenly straitlaced Harold says he’s “kinda glad all the craziness is behind me,” the banker makeover is out the window once they discover a mammoth, Bob Marley-sized joint inside the parcel.

Upon lighting it, our heroes accidentally set fire to the Christmas tree, and so they subsequently embark on a desperate quest to replace it before Harold’s wife (Paula Garces) and his in-laws return from Church. This proves easier said than done, given that it’s late on Christmas Eve.

What ensues is your garden-variety ganja flick, except one featuring a distinctly Yuletide spin. Better brace yourself for a Christmas wreath festooned with cannabis instead of holly leaves, for plays on words about “Winter Wonder Weed” and “Hannukah Hash,” and to have big clouds of smoke blown in your face in 3D.

While the uninitiated might consider the incessant association of the holiday season with substance abuse almost blasphemous, fans of the franchise will undoubtedly get a kick out of the relentless irreverence. Along for the ride is Neil Patrick Harris again playing himself, as well as a couple of new buddies in Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) and Todd (Thomas Lennon).

As the guys crisscross New York City in search of another 12-foot fir, they encounter everything from fellow party animals to naked nuns to Ukrainian mobsters to Santa Claus himself. A raunchy and religiously incorrect roller coaster ride for the very open-minded, not to be mistaken for one of those traditional, sentimental Christmas yarns.

What’s in store for number four—Harold and Kumar get Uncle Sam high on the Fourth of July?

Very Good (3 stars).

Running time: 90 minutes.

 

13

Anchor Bay Films

Rated R for graphic violence, bloody images and brief nudity

Remake Of French Thriller Revolves Around Grisly Game Of Russian Roulette

Sometimes you have to wonder why they keep foisting English-language remakes of great, little-known foreign films on the unsuspecting public. While these knockoffs might make it easy for folks who hate reading subtitles, that demographic might be better off watching a dubbed version of a sleeper than a watered-down imitation lacking sophistication and charm.

Invariably, the American version pales in comparison, and alas such is again the case with 13, a crime caper loosely based on a French masterpiece of the same name. The original was a riveting, edge-of-your-seat thriller about a down-on-his-luck roofer who was forced to participate in a high-stakes game of Russian roulette in which everyone but the winner will die.

There is considerably less tension in the 2011 edition because it isn’t tautly edited and since several contestants get to survive the ordeal. The picture squanders a big-name cast featuring Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, 50 Cent, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Michael Shannon and Ray Winstone.

At the point of departure, we learn that the protagonist, Vince (Sam Riley), is an electrician desperate to pay his ailing father’s mounting hospital bills. After impersonating his late employer, he ends up in a mansion full of mobsters, and standing in a circle of 17 guys holding pistols to each other’s heads while the sadistic gangsters place bets on who will survive each round of gun play.

Despite a big, Hollywood budget allowing for a more grisly and more graphic, high attrition-rate adventure, it all somehow still adds up to less. Rent the original.

Fair (1 star).

Running time: 90 Minutes.

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

For movies opening November 4, 2011

Tower Heist (PG-13 for profanity and sexuality). Revenge comedy about a group of swindled investors who enlist the assistance of a trash-talking, petty thief (Eddie Murphy) to burglarize the condo of the Wall Street titan (Alan Alda) behind a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme which left them penniless. Ensemble includes Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Gabourey Siddibe, Tea Leoni, Judd Hirsch and Michael Pena.

Charlotte Rampling: The Look (Unrated). Reverential biopic explores the on and off screen personas of the legendary actress via snippets of film footage as well as revealing conversations with her friends and colleagues like Peter Lindbergh, Paul Auster and Juergen Teller. (In French and English with subtitles.)

Dragonslayer (Unrated). Slice-of-life documentary about Josh “Screech” Sandoval, a local, skateboarding legend in suburban Fullerton, California.

Five Star Day (Unrated). Constellation drama about a horoscope skeptic (Cam Gigandet) who decides to test his theory that astrology is nonsense by tracking down three people (Brooklyn Sudano, Jena Malone and Max Hartman) born at the same time and place as himself in order to show how different their lives and fates are.

In the Family (Unrated). Courtroom drama set in a small Tennessee town about a gay man (Patrick Wang) who loses custody of his precocious 6-year-old son (Sebastian Banes) to the sister (Kelly McAndrew) of his recently-deceased life mate (Trevor St. John) in the wake of a tragic car accident.

Killing Bono (R for nudity, sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity). Bittersweet biopic based on aspiring rock star Neil McCormick’s (Ben Barnes) memoir of the same name recounting his futile, decade-long attempt to match the phenomenal success his high school classmate Bono (Martin McCann) met with the group U2. With Robert Sheehan, Krysten Ritter and the late Pete Postlethwaite.

The Other F Word (Unrated). Mid-life crisis documentary chronicling Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg’s capitulation to the role of father after 20 years on the road as a rebellious punk-rocker. Featuring appearances by Flea, Tony Hawk and Tony Adolescent.

Pianomania (Unrated). Musical documentary about piano tuner Stefan Knupfer’s relentless quest for perfect pitch on behalf of classical music icons like Lang Lang in concert halls all over the world. (In German and English with subtitles.)

The Son Of No One (R for violence, pervasive profanity and disturbing sexual content). Skeletons-in-the-closet thriller about a NYC cop (Channing Tatum) forced to face a long-buried secret about a couple of unsolved murders after being assigned to work in the neighborhood where he grew up. Cast includes Al Pacino, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche, Tracy Morgan and Katie Holmes.

Stuck Between Stations (Unrated). Romance drama about the serendipitous reunion of an Afghan War veteran (Sam Rosen) and the former classmate (Zoe Lister Jones) he had a crush on when they were teenagers a decade earlier. With Josh Hartnett, Michael Imperioli and Christiana Clark.

Young Goethe in Love (Unrated). Historical drama revisiting Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s (Alexander Fehling) early years when as a law student and aspiring poet he landed in a love triangle with a fetching ingénue (Miriam Stein) and a well-heeled competitor (Moritz Bleibtreu) for her affections. With Volker Bruch, Henry Hubchen and Burghart Klauszner. (In German with subtitles.)

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