For anyone who missed the first movie, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay quickly sketches out the differences between the two friends in the opening scene, while setting up the movie’s raison d’etre.
It’s a few hours since the end of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. The boys have had their burgers and Harold shared a special moment in the elevator with his sapno ki rani, Maria, as she’s on her way to Amsterdam.
Impulsively the pair decide to follow her, and their flight is leaving soon.
Shots cut back and forth as they pack. Harold (John Cho) plucks items out of a walk-in closet so perfectly appointed it would make Nate Berkus plotz with joy. Meanwhile Kumar (Kal Penn) sniff-tests the garments in his closet, discovers foul matter in shoes and beer cans, and tucks a copy of, er, let’s call it, Vajayjay magazine into his backpack. As the scene progresses, Roldy irons a few items of clothing while Kumar ducks beneath the covers for some quick pre-flight onanism, the results of which are splayed all to see.
Are you saying “Ewwww” yet?
But this is from the duo Hurwitz and Schlossberg – Randolph, New Jersey’s favorite sons now serving as directors as well as writers – and we would expect nothing less, would we?
At the airport Kumar gets pulled aside by a TSA agent, but manages to talk his way through the situation, with some techniques that would only work in a spoof like this and which the average desi dude might think twice about essaying himself. Next, the duo run into Kumar’s old girlfriend, Vanessa, and her wealthy, too pretty fiancé as they head for Texas to get married. (The fiance’s father was a classmate of Dubya’s.)
But that’s not the only bad news Kumar will have today. A misunderstanding onboard the flight – a smokeless bong mistaken for a bomb – lands the Hoboken roommates in a cell on Guantanamo Bay.
Cue Rob Corddry as the overzealous and underinformed Homeland Security agent Ron Fox. Interestingly, this is the first overt mention of September 11 by name that I remember in a comedy film so far. Six and a half years after the day, I guess we can handle it now.
Despite what you might assume from the title, Gitmo is but a stopover on the H&K itinerary. They quickly make their way back to the US, determined to get to Texas where Vanessa’s father-in-law-to-be can clear their names. Starting out, como tantos cubanos, in Miami, the pair then head west.
Many favorites from the first Harold and Kumar are here again: the intense Christopher Meloni (Oz anyone?), whose physical beauty is once again obscured by make-up and costume, and whose role is briefer than before, Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Neil Patrick Harris, and the female giant bag of pot.
This time around, we get some back story on what the guys were like as undergrads. Just wait “˜til you see them.
The incessant reveling in, then blowing apart of, racial and gender stereotypes that made for such great fun in 2004 is all there again, and no one is safe: blacks, Jews, gay men, gun-toting residents of the deep South, and on and on. Matthew Perry doesn’t fare too well either.
I will confess that by the last third of the film I felt like the foot was off the pedal and we were just coasting toward the end, but the many small details, like Kumar’s t-shirts, one of the extras shouting the Apu-referential “Thank you come again” as he passes Jersey’s most illustrious desi actor in a scene, and that amazing poem that not only refers to Route 3 but also incorporates the word “integer”, sweeten the journey along the way.
And the real message of the film is that you don’t have to love your government because you love your country.
See it or skip it?
If references to drugs, poop, pubic hair, fellatio, to say nothing of male frontal nudity will not offend you, then by all means see it.
You get to watch two smart, funny, good-looking guys make like a tween opening his first condom, taking one racist assumption after another and twisting it inside out.