Monday, 21 September 2020
Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 29 April 2008 13:33


ThumbnailI was first inducted into the world of Harold and Kumar only a few nights ago. Since I didn’t want to go blindly into the sequel, and my boyfriend reassured me that the first installment was “funny as hell”, we popped in the DVD. Despite my skepticism, the stoner buddy comedy won me over. Harold, an Asian number cruncher and Kumar, an East Indian slacker, just want to get to the nearest White Castle burger joint and satisfy their pot-induced munchies. Along the way all sorts of zany things happen to sidetrack them. It was an irreverent, and surprisingly brilliant movie in its simplicity. Unfortunately, the sequel throws simplicity to the curb and loses much of the brilliance and charm in the process.

Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay uses the same formula but gums up the works with a convoluted plot and a few other sticky substances I won’t mention. It picks up immediately where the first film left off, with Harold and Kumar heading to Amsterdam in search of the elevator girl Harold has been lusting over. He finally got up the nerve to talk to her at the end of the last film and things went far better than he expected, ending in a kiss worthy of a chewing gum commercial. Kumar stupidly smuggles a bong (sounds like “bomb”) onto the plane and the two are mistaken for Al Qaeda terrorists and shipped off to Guantanamo Bay. So much for a fair trial!Thumbnail

Of course they narrowly escape before Big Bob the prison guard steals what’s left of their innocence. The rest of the film is spent with the pair making their way through the U.S. as fugitives and trying to clear their names before they are caught and shipped back to Big Bob. Throw in a subplot about Kumar’s long lost love Vanessa who is scheduled to marry someone else. Add to this a terribly un-funny federal agent; a party with the KKK; some inbreeding rednecks; smoking pot with George Bush; racial jokes and a whole lot of nudity and you’ve got a movie that is trying way to hard to squeeze out a some laughs. Oh yeah, and don’t forget Neil Patrick Harris as a scumbag version of himself. “NPH” is one of the funniest things about the White Castle movie but in this installment he comes across as just plain nasty.

There are a few genuine chuckles to be had as the two friends fumble their way through an onslaught of uncomfortable scenarios, each one more insane than the last. There are even moments of inspired brilliance such as a flashback to their high school days as overachieving stereotypes. Unfortunately, the line between being vulgar and funny or just plain old vulgar is crossed way too often. I found myself forcing a laugh or two where one seemed to be called for.

With a great and lewdly hilarious film like Forgetting Sarah Marshall playing just next door, I’d say your movie-going dollars are best spent elsewhere. Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay just doesn’t measure up in laughs or smarts. I give it a passing grade of 6 out of 10.