Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008) – Review

3 Stars

Picking up directly after the events of the first film Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay sends our bumbling stoner dudes to Amsterdam with stops in Cuba, Miami and eventually Texas. This is the kind of goofy gigglefest that has the gumption to include a sequence in which our protagonists get high with former president George W. Bush (a spot on impersonator) and a visit to an incestuous family of farmers hiding a mongoloid (and very horny) offspring in the basement. This second installment in the increasingly funny series follows the cross-country adventures of the pot-smoking duo as they try to outrun authorities who suspect them of being terrorists after being arrested for sneaking a bong on board their flight to Europe.

I wasn’t the biggest admierer of the previous entry 2004s Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. The comedy and scenarios felt forced and the subplot involving a heavily drugged Neil Patrick Harris didn’t strike me as particularly clever or amusing. However this sequel revisits a lot of familiar elements that are becoming hallmarks of the series, yet strangely all those things worked for me this time around. Maybe it because Im beginning to appreciate the fact that the writers have made Harold & Kumar intelligent, well educated and generally well meaning fellas that continue to make poor decisions under extreme circumstances. Typically in ‘stoner comedies’ the leads are burnout moronic near-do-well-ers not here. Credit must also be given for breaking stereotypes throughout the movie, scenes that may seem racially charged or offensive are quickly reversed and audience expectations are toyed with in a highly amusing fashion.

Neil Patrick Harris shows up again in a glorified cameo consuming mass amount of hallucinogenic mushrooms and pot. His appearance is more enjoyable in this entry because his scenes are worked into the story in a far less jarring manner than was previously the case. The antics of a one track minded anti terrorist unit leader played by Rod Corddry are very funny. After stealing scenes from Ben Stiller in Heartbreak Kid and walking away with this film; Corddry has to be one of the best comedic supporting actors working today. Harold & Kumar is in the great tradition of T&A films and ‘stoner comedies’ but has a lot more laughs and smarts than is the norm for the genera.

Director: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Stars: John Cho, Kal Penn, Rob Corddry

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