As Marisa Meltzer once pointed out in Slate, stoner comedies tend to adhere to a very simple formula: “two guys + a big bag of weed + some kind of task to complete = awesome times.” Harold & Kumar want a bunch of burgers. Harold & Kumar want to go to Amsterdam. The Dude wants his rug back.
They also tend to be about evading authority. Cheech & Chong have to escape the cops. Harold & Kumar have to escape from Guantanamo Bay. The Half Baked crew have to free their friend Kenny from prison.
Yes, they’re formulaic, but the charm of stoner comedies is that they’re just about a bunch of dudes (and they’re still almost always dudes) who want to prolong the good times.
I don’t know what the writers were smoking when they plotted out A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (my fear is nothing at all), but it gets all of that wrong. Rather than seeking out munchies or the greener grass of Amsterdam, in their latest film, Harold and Kumar try to (1) replace Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Douglas fir, (2) throw a Christmas party to impress Harold’s co-workers, and (3) accept Kumar’s new role as a father.
In other words, the movie is less about shirking responsibility than taking it. For all the pedophilic priests and babies rolling on ecstasy, this movie could have been called Harold & Kumar Go Conservative.
The movie needn’t have been such a bummer. H&K auteurs Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg recently discussed the story behind the threequel. It turns out the original concept wasn’t 3D Christmas, but:
… Harold & Kumar and the Legend of Eazy-E’s Stash. In this movie, Harold and Kumar find out about an amazing bag of weed that once belonged to Eazy-E in the early nineties. Before he died, Eazy and one of his top hoes hid the bag somewhere in the United States and left clues to its whereabouts within famous rap lyrics. (Kinda like the dollar bill in National Treasure.) … Alas, it turned out that the logistics of getting the rights to Eazy-E’s estate were more challenging than distributing a holiday film.
I’m less of a stoner than I am a fan of the stoner comedy, but this sounds like the makings of “awesome times” to me. Here’s hoping the next Harold & Kumar is less about chasing trees and more about smoking them.