HomeVideodrome: A 'Very' Amusing Stoner Sequel

This week on the HomeVideodrome podcast, Jim finally sees “Drive” and weighs in, Hunter reviews “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” and Jim reveals his love affair with “A Fish Called Wanda.” Also, we discuss Ryan O’Neal’s finest moment on film in Norman Mailer’s “Tough Guys Don’t Dance.” Head over to The Film Thugs to give it a listen.

You are already aware of whether or not “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” interests you. “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” is a bit of a stoner classic, possessing the sort of random logic that strings the best weed-fueled movies together. The sequel, “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay,” was raunchier and had some hilarious bits, but never really came together as a complete product the way a lot of modern comedies fail to do. This third outing fares better than the second, adding a Christmas-driven plot to the stoned “After Hours” shenanigans.


This time around, Harold & Kumar have gone their separate ways as friends. Harold is a big-shot executive on Wall Street and lives in mortal fear of his father-in-law, which is completely understandable since the in-law is played by Danny Trejo. Trejo’s fearsome father has an intense love of Christmas, with special attention reserved for the magic of his homegrown Christmas tree.

While his wife is out with the family for midnight mass, Harold pledges to decorate the tree, hoping to make into a magical display and win the respect of his in-laws. His hopes are dashed when Kumar, still a bloodshot walking disaster, shows up to give him a mystery package, which contains a magical joint. One thing leads to another, and Trejo’s Christmas tree is destroyed in a freak accident, leading Harold & Kumar on an evening excursion to replace the tree, even if it means getting attacked by Russian mobsters, going on a claymated acid trip, or having yet another run-in with Neil Patrick Harris.

Again, you know what you’re in for with a Harold & Kumar movie, and while not as fresh as the original, it’s a more coherent sequel than the last film in the series. Inserting them into a Christmas setting gives it a sweet holiday flavor to go with the raunch-factor, which is always almost cranked up to John Waters levels of nasty in these films. A Rankin/Bass-style sequence of claymation high jinks allows them to indulge the Christmas-special vibe the story already has, while showing stuff you probably otherwise couldn’t get away with in an R-rated comedy. I giggled like an idiot through the last two films, and I did the same through this. Unlike a lot of stoner comedies, you don’t need to be high to enjoy them.

The Blu-ray ain’t loaded in terms of extras, it features an extended cut, as well as deleted scenes, which is par for the course. There’s a segment on realizing the claymation sequence, but it’s just a storyboard-to-film comparison. The only bits that are really worthwhile are some short “interviews” with Tom Lennon, where he crafts an argument that “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” is superior to the work of Dickens, Hemingway, and Faulkner, asking whether or not they thought to depict showering nuns in their work. He does admit that Victor Hugo explored some of their ideas first in “Les Miserables,” though. Can’t win ’em all.

I find it strange that they’ve decided to go ahead and release it in February, as most Christmas movies don’t get their home video release until the next Christmas season is upon us. Not that I mind, I don’t need to be in the Christmas spirit to chuckle at some good ol’ fashioned stoner antics. This ain’t a candy cane for the easily offended, but I’m sure most of you know better than to put it on during the next family gathering, because we all know this is more of a treat for an ugly Christmas sweater party with some friends.

Available on 3D Blu-rayBlu-rayDVD, and Amazon Instant

Other Noteworthy Releases

The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Part I: I’ve never seen any of these, but one day I plan to get loaded and have a marathon once they’re all available for home consumption. Anyone care to join me? Mark Kermode described this movie as “bonkers,” which sounds promising on several levels. Look for it on Friday, February 11th.

Available on Blu-rayDVD, and Amazon Instant

Lady and The Tramp: I watched this movie a lot when I was a kid, which is why I’m shocked I remember hardly anything about it, apart from the memorable spaghetti-date scene and the “we are Siamese if you please” bit with the cats. Time for a refresher.

Available on Blu-ray/DVD combo

Anonymous: Roland Emmerich took a break from Irwin Allen films writ large and sub-Spielberg/Cameron offerings to do a movie about nutty conspiracy theories regarding whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote his plays. The movie drew the ire of Shakespeare experts and plain ol’ film critics alike, but it’s interesting to see a guy who loves to blow stuff up as much as Emmerich does take such a dramatic turn.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World: If you were alive in 1963, and had ever appeared on film with the intention of making others laugh by that point, chances are you were in this movie.

Available on Blu-ray

Casino Royale: Not the Bond debut of Daniel Craig, but the Bond spoof with the likes of David Niven, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers and Orson Welles.

Available on Blu-ray

Love Story: No, moron, love DOES mean having to say you’re sorry.

Available on Blu-ray

The Sunset Limited: A two-man show written by the great Cormac McCarthy, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones, who also directs. I’m in.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Project Nim: A man versus beast documentary about an ape raised as a human, directed by “Man on a Wire” filmmaker James Marsh, which goes well with a side of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

Available on DVD

A Fish Called Wanda: Kevin Kline’s Oscar-winning turn came from this unlikely Monty Python-populated film, which gets its Blu-ray release this week.

Available on Blu-ray

La Jetee/Sans Soleil: I own this set on DVD for “La Jetee” alone, which is one of the more interesting science fiction films out there, even if it is comprised almost entirely of still photographs and voiceover. Speaking of Monty Python earlier, one of their veterans, Terry Gilliam, took the plot of “La Jetee” to new heights by remaking it as a feature with “12 Monkeys.” Mark Romanek also referenced it heavily in his video for David Bowie’s “Jump, They Say.” This set showcases the most significant film work of Chris Marker, whose work has found much renown across various mediums.

Available on Blu-ray

A Star is Born: The film likely to win big at The Oscars this year, “The Artist,” owes its basic plot to this film directed by “Wild Bill” Wellman, starring Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. Kino is presenting it just in time for the Academy Awards, with all the bells n’ whistles they’re wont to give.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD

This piece originally appeared over at Parcbench.