A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (Blu-ray Review)

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, so what better way to rush into the holiday spirit than with the arrival of the A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.  The stoner comedy duo has returned for a third feature film, which had nowhere to go but up, following the pretty terrible sequel, ‘Escape from Guantanamo Bay’, and fortunately this film manages to do just that.  Unfortunately, the move upwards is not that high.  This third installment in the series is incredibly hit or miss and while enjoyable for a good portion of its duration, it’s incredibly forgettable as well.  While still striving to be offensive in an adorable sort of way, the interesting way the first film handled racial subversion is nowhere to be seen here either.  What’s left is a raunchy Christmas story that reunites two friends, with mostly mixed results.  Read on to find out if this ‘Extra Dope Edition’ does the film any more yuletide justice.


As opposed to the last film, which took place mere minutes after the first film, ‘Christmas’ picks up with our heroes several years later.  Harold and Kumar (John Cho and Kal Penn) have gone their separate ways after college.  Harold now has a nice job and lives in his nice house, with his nice wife, Maria (Paula Garces).  Kumar lives in the same old apartment, still getting the same old kind of high, and lost his old girlfriend (Danneel Harris).  On the day of Christmas Eve, Kumar heads over to his estranged pal Harold’s house to deliver a package that was mistakenly brought to Kumar’s apartment.  Things quickly take a bad spin, as Kumar accidently burns down Harold’s father-in-law’s (Danny Trejo) Christmas tree, which he had been growing for eight years prior.  Hoping to fix the problem before Maria, her father, and the rest of her family come back home from Midnight Mass in the city, Harold and Kumar set out on a journey to find another perfect Christmas tree.  Plenty of raunchy, yuletide shenanigans ensue, including encounters with mob bosses, interactions with the perfect Christmas gift, and another visit from one St. NPH.

I went into this film fairly optimistic.  I did enjoy the first film in this series.  Not as much as some, but I did find it quite funny and appreciated the surprising amount of layers it had with regards to race relations of all things and the intelligence of the characters, while still serving as a stoner comedy about getting hamburgers.  The second film, while I found some moments pretty amusing, was pretty terrible in a way that kind of ruined the goodwill set up by the first.  Hearing the announcement of a third film did not really excite me, but the initial trailer managed to get me back into the fun spirit of watching these characters, along with simply providing a pretty solid two minutes of laughter.  Once again, critiquing a comedy like this will come down to what I thought made me laugh versus how well I thought it managed to sell us on the adventures and growth these characters have.  I certainly did laugh at a good number of scenes, but the problems with this film stem less from anything it is trying to say or be “cutely” offensive towards and more with the fact that a good amount of the humor falls pretty flat.

To say more about the positive.  I did laugh quite a bit during many scenes.  The film takes a while to really get going, but once it does (basically once Harold and Kumar are back together) I appreciated the duo’s chemistry, a lot of their interactions with others, and some of the ways they address having gotten older.  The film has a lot of obvious callbacks to the previous films, but some of those moments stick pretty well.  It also takes some time to point out how self aware it is of being a 3D film (during its theatrical run), being another sequel, and referencing the actors real life personas (White House, Sulu), which is sometimes humorous.  Putting the plot aside and observing a lot of the comedic set piece moments as separate entities, I did appreciate some moments a great deal.  The two most notable of these moments involve a claymation sequence and, of course, Neil Patrick Harris.

With the claymation scene, despite having seen sharper and more hilarious takes on this format in other recent Christmas-themed comedic media (Community and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), it still gave me a chuckle to see the stars imagine themselves as claymated  and be chased by a monstrous snowman.  Regarding Neil Patrick Harris, it is basically the expected, obligatory showcase moment for him to return to the story that serves no real purpose besides being funny, but I did find it funny.  Harris has come out about being gay in the time past, since the last film, and now we have him here (after surviving two shotgun blasts to the back in the previous film) playing himself as a person pretending to be gay.  Regardless of his relevance to the film, his filthy take on his own persona continues to make me laugh.

Where Harold & Kumar stumble is in its various attempts to keep other less important plots moving.  During the early part of their journey, Harold and Kumar are joined by two of their new friends, Todd and Adrian (Tom Lennon and Amir Blumenfeld).  Todd also has his young daughter on hand and a running joke involves her using various types of drugs.  There is just something that never seems funny, every time the film cuts back to this joke.  There are also plenty of race jokes that, for me, still range from mild chuckle to groan inducing.  The lack of any commentary in regards to this humor just makes it stand out as jokes done in poor taste in an attempt to be offensive, but since it attacks many different targets, it’s ok.

Another issue is in regards to making this film matter.  It is nice that these guys are back and having fun, but the film has nothing to say about anything.  Even the second film haphazardly addressed George W Bush’s terms in office.  With this film being set during Christmas, something could have been brought up regarding…well anything really; consumerism, other holidays, more about family.  There are some light dramatic stakes involving the duo’s friendship and the ol’ approval of your father-in-law story, but nothing really registers that significantly.

I would not go as far to say that I don’t care for this series enough to see another one of these films, but there is very little here to make another one feel necessary.  With that said I had a good enough time with a lot of the moments and did continue to enjoy Kal Penn and John Cho’s chemistry together.  Cho is a fun straight man to Penn’s vulgar, stoner comic persona.  I guess I just wish this film did more in the way of having meaning.  Given that these films continue to have a lot of success in home media format, I can’t fault its popularity too much, but I don’t think this installment will be becoming a Christmas classic for that many people.  One final note:  I love WaffleBot.


Interesting thing about the transfer of A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas onto Blu-ray.  It is a pretty fantastic 1080p AVC-encoded transfer, which is fittingly bright, colorful, and festive throughout.  However, with that said, the fact that this is the 2D version of the film essentially highlights how throwaway this film seems to be.  Taking the glossiness of the 3D away, the film looks a lot like a made for TV raunch-fest, given some of the production values.  To me, this seemed highlighted by the clarity of the Blu-ray, so it is a compliment to the quality of the picture seen on this disc, just unfortunately a clue into what is kind of lacking in the film itself.  With that said, were I able to review the 3D Blu-ray, I would imagine it is quite stunning in video quality as well.


Strangeness persists in the audio department as well.  While the theatrical cut is presented in full lossless DTS-HD, the extended cut is fitted with a Dolby Digital Mix.  Jumping back and forth between the cuts of the film for the sake of listening to some of the key ‘extreme’ moments of the film, it seems pretty apparent that those looking to hear the glorious sounds of comedic madness in the extended cut will not be getting a full experience compared to the theatrical.  The lossless track comes out well balanced, with dialogue, music, and various ‘holiday explosions’ sounding as good as they need to.  It is unfortunate that the best possible audio track for this Blu-ray is not available for both cuts of the film


As I mentioned, there is an extended cut of the film available, which runs 96 minutes, as opposed to the theatrical’s 90.  Not much is added, but a few extra gags don’t do much to change up the film.  Getting into the actual supplements, this is a disappointingly slim set.  Considering that it’s always fun to see outtakes, extended gags, or even a commentary with the fun cast, it really sucks that none of this was made available for the Blu-ray release.  At least the few extras that are presented are done so in HD.

Features Include:

Through the Haze with Tom Lennon: Colorful vignettes & muses from this comedic genius – Basically a series of clips with Tom Lennon ad-libbing some funny stuff for 10 minutes.

Bringing Harold & Kumar Claymation To Life: Director Todd Strauss-Schulson shares his passion and inspiration to bring this memorable scene to life – The concept is briefly talked about, then we see the story boards for the entire sequence.

Deleted Scenes: About 4 minutes of stuff that was not funny enough, although a Santa gag was amusing.

UltraViolet Digital Copy

DVD Copy – I should mention that this is a flipper disc, as opposed to a separate Blu and DVD.


You generally see movies with a Christmas theme debuting around the time of the holidays, even when the home media version of the film is released, but Christmas has come early for those who missed A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas in theaters, as well as those who did in fact enjoy it.  I just wish that the film was funnier and felt less lazy.  With the 3D element removed from this version of the Blu-ray, some of the novelty has worn off for sure and the weird exclusion of a lossless audio track on the extended cut is also quite a mystery.  The scant amount of special features does not help either.  Again, I did get some laughs out of this film and have unabashed love for WaffleBot (why couldn’t this be the Super WaffleBot Extra Syrup Edition?), but maybe others will be able to get more out of this third outing of the stoner duo than I did.  At least they have a visually good looking Blu-ray to dig into.  And who knows, maybe for next Christmas I can get my own WaffleBot.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

2 Responses to “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Jordan Grout

    I wonder if they’ll double-dip in December

  2. Matt Goodman

    F*** Pancakes!