Saturday, August 2, 2008

MOVIE: HAROLD & KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY



Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
is the 2008 comedy film sequel to the 2004 film, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. John Cho and Kal Penn reprise their roles as the eponymous stoner duo, along with Paula Garcés as Harold's love interest, Maria. Neil Patrick Harris also returns as a satirical version of himself.
New additions to the cast are comedian Jon Reep and former Daily Show correspondents Rob Corddry and Ed Helms. Other cast members include David Krumholtz, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jack Conley, Roger Bart, Danneel Harris, Eric Winter, Adam Herschman, and Richard Christy.

The cannabis-craving twosome returns in this high-flying sequel that finds them labeled terrorists for attempting to sneak a marijuana-smoking implement on a flight to Amsterdam. Harold (Cho) and Kumar (Penn) have just finished gorging themselves on savory White Castle hamburgers when they return to their apartment and hatch a plan for Harold to win the heart of his crush, Maria (Garcés). Maria is going to Amsterdam, and if Harold can catch up with her overseas perhaps he can strike up a real love connection.

After a close call with airport personnel and a chance encounter with Kumar's ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Harris) -- who hadn't yet told Kumar that she's engaged to be married -- the pot-loving pals finally board their flight for Amsterdam. Unfortunately for Harold, Kumar isn't able to endure the lengthy flight without an innocent puff or two from his smokeless bong. When the plane hits some turbulence and the bong is mistaken for a bomb, the flight is diverted to Guantanamo Bay and our spliff-smoking heroes are detained by overzealous Deputy Chief of Homeland Security Ron Fox (Corddry).

Now, if they can just escape from the world's most notorious prison compound, perhaps this hapless duo can succeed in convincing the authorities that they aren't enemy combatants, and that Kumar made the mistake of his life by letting Vanessa go. But before they can prove their innocence and get the girls, Harold and Kumar will have to outsmart the dreaded Ku Klux Klan, contend with a particularly precocious Cyclops baby, and successfully elude everyone's favorite debauched former child star -- Neil Patrick Harris.




Stoner comedies can be good when they want to be and Harold & Kumar are one of the better ones, but thats not saying much. I enjoyed White Castle but was hesitant to watch Guantanamo Bay because I knew I was going to watch the same thing over again and I was right. Guantanamo picks up right where the first one left off and Harold & Kumar continue to get themselves stuck in crazy situations one after another.

The only problem is that Guantanamo is not as fun as White Castle. That movie had a lot of fun with its premise and the situations they got themselves into were funny. In Guantanamo they basically repeat almost the same gags and humor, but since we have already seen a crazy psycho Neil Patrick Harris and a redneck freak, its not as funny the second time around.

There was also a couple of uncomfortable scenes in the movie. There are scenes that are just horribly racist with no punchline. Most of them are brought on by Corddry's government agent character. I usually like Corddry but here he plays a guy who just throws out one racist joke after another and instead of making them funny, they come off as awkward. You can't have a racist character in a comedy who knows he is racist yet so stupid that he doesn't realize that he is being racist to the wrong people, its not funny, especially after the tenth time he does it in the movie.

There is also a lot of shots of naughty bits and when I say a lot, I do mean A LOT, in the unrated version I watched anyway. Now don't get me wrong, I think movies should be allowed to show as much nudity as they want and I don't mind looking at it, but only if its used in the right context. There is a scene where Harold & Kumar go to a naked bottoms party and carry on a conversation with someone while the camera cuts away to all the naked bottoms at the party. The thing is, Harold & Kumar hold this whole conversation off camera the entire time and you just hear them while looking at a different woman's poontang every three seconds. The camera just lingers on them like a creepy looking guy at a girls volleyball game. In a later scene, the camera does this again while two girls are kissing. Another second and this film would have been a porno.

I did find myself laughing a lot through the movie despite all the things that I did not like about it. Despite all the uncomfortable racist jokes, the uncomfortable lingering nudity waching camera, the voice off camera in every scene that always has something stupid to say and the final scene in the film where Harold & Kumar smoke pot with President Bush, played by a guy who sounds just like him but not even close in the looks department. This scene isn't funny for obvious reasons but there was a part of it that rang true. President Bush starts talking with the guys how his dad is always pressuring him to do things. Kumar tells him that he can relate because he feels that the only reason he is in medical school is to continue the legacy. This makes Bush think for a moment and that is a rare sight.

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay: 5 out of 10

The DVD features audio commentary, the unrated and rated versions of the movie, a "Dude, Change the Movie" version, a whopping 36 deleted and extended scenes, a couple of President Bush anti-smoking PSA's, the theatrical trailer and an "Inside the World of Harold & Kumar: A Choose Your Path Experience" featurette.


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