"“It’s no Miracle on 34th Street, put it that way…”"

Naked Nuns, kids on cocaine, and waffle-making, gangster-killing robots. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.

In what can arguably be defined as the first stoner-Christmas cross-over feature, Harold and Kumar return for a third instalment, as the pot-smoking pair try to get their heads around Christmas, and attempt not to ruin it for all concerned, despite their accidental efforts.

Harold (John Cho) has moved on and since married the beautiful Maria (Paula Garcés), working in finance and living a somewhat ordinary life. Kumar (Kal Penn), on the other hand, is still a layabout, spending most of his time doing nothing but smoking pot. Despite having not spoken for a number of years, the pair are reunited by a mysterious package addressed to Harold, oddly delivered to Kumar.

As Kumar drops the package off at his old friend’s house, disaster strikes as they accidentally burn down the Christmas tree belonging to Maria’s unyielding father (Danny Trejo), a prized possession of the Christmas-loving authoritarian Mr. Perez. Therefore, the pair must embark on a journey to find another Christmas tree identical to the one they burnt down, and return it home, make it look spectacular, and to save Christmas, all before Mr. Perez returns home from midnight mass.

However, what the pair can’t predict is an unholy amount of implausible mishaps, making their seemingly straight-forward mission rather difficult to complete. They manage to get on the wrong side of Ukrainian gangsters, whilst somehow managing to shoot Santa Clause in the face. The only thing missing is aliens.

Despite its absurdity, the film is actually very funny. Containing a variety of silly in-jokes – the line “See you in the fourth one (movie)” a highlight, it takes a rather cynical view of Hollywood, especially satirical when it turns out Neil Patrick Harris (playing himself) turns out to be a straight and potent misogynist, rather than being gay, of which he is a keen activist in real-life.

At least to begin with, the use of 3D also adds to the comicality, putting the commonly-used effect to great use, especially the smoke being released from Kumar’s mouth, looking very realistic when blown onto the screen. However, there are a few too many examples of objects looking as though they are coming towards the audience. To begin with it seems quite exciting, but by the end it becomes relatively tedious. 

But the film is perhaps too incongruous and ridiculous at points, losing the simplistic qualities that the first of the series possessed. Of course the point is for the film to become absurd and over-the-top, and although at times it is hilarious, at others points it does seem perhaps a little too much, for example the highly-unnecessary animated interlude halfway through the film.

However, I did feel that although not matching up to the first of the three films, it is better than their second offering Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, which was equally as over-the-top yet without the witty edge and it didn’t seem as though it was aware of just how frolicsome and outlandish it had become.

This particular feature, however, thrives upon its inanity, actively playing up to it. Its true saving grace, preventing the film from being completely awful, is just how aware and conscious the filmmakers are of how preposterous the whole film is.

It’s a comical and entertaining film and if you are a fan of the Harold and Kumar franchise, then you aren’t to be disappointed. Although if you have never been acquainted with the troublesome pair, it may be a good idea to watch Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle beforehand, a slightly more toned-down production, and would save being thrown into the deep end. 

And I would also avoid it if you merely want to go and see a Christmas film, and taking your family is certainly out of the equation. It’s no Miracle on 34th Street, put it that way.