Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is a weak, lame and sloppy sequel. I say this with regret because I’m a huge fan of the original, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, a film that managed to deliver outrageous filth and drug humor with remarkable charm and, dare I say, a certain amount of class. This time out, the duo just doesn’t have it.
The sequel’s directorial reins have been taken over by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, who wrote the scripts for both films. As with the original, there’s a promising array of situations for the hapless title characters (played amusingly by John Cho and Kal Penn). But this time, the humor is delivered with all the style of your average American Pie straight-to-DVD P.O.S. What was funny and well-calibrated in the original has become shallow and worthlessly crude.
The movie picks up where the other left off, with Harold (Cho) taking a shower that’s interrupted by the sweet sounds of Kumar (Penn) expelling the White Castle sliders from his ass in grisly, flatulent fashion. Things basically go downhill from there.
The two board a plane to Amsterdam and promptly get in trouble when Kumar tries to light a bong that gets mistaken for a bomb. They are branded terrorists and sent to Guantanamo Bay, where U.S. soldiers threaten them with a “cock meat sandwich.” Luckily, they escape and eventually find themselves in the South.
Much of the humor is recycled from the first film. My personal limit for laughing at a big bag of marijuana going down on a guy is one film, and this one makes two. Neil Patrick Harris shows up again, this time hallucinating on shrooms and seeing unicorns. Here is an example of a great thing being beaten to death. Harris should’ve retired gracefully with the first film.
There are moments that rise above the muck. I laughed a decent amount during a Klan rally ("Dude, the Klan really know how to party!") and a sequence involving an inbred Cyclops boy that is so perfectly creepy, I found myself angry that it was wasted in a sub-par film. Seriously, the moment is scarier than most horror films of recent years.
I also give the film credit for getting right in the face of the U.S. government and not pulling its punches. The film’s depiction of homeland security agents and George W. Bush took balls and scores some bravery points. Actually, the dope-smoking Bush is one of the film’s more enjoyable characters, hiding from Dick Cheney and telling off his daddy over the phone. Makes you sort of wish President Bush really was a pot smoker.
Unfortunately, for every joke that works there are two clunkers, and the directors just can’t seem to find that subtle balance that turns obscenity from crude to inspired.
Cho and Penn are a fun screen duo, and I for one wouldn’t mind further adventures of Harold & Kumar. I just don’t like seeing such good characters wallowing in trash. Sex, drugs and crap jokes can be funny, but it takes a real expert to pull them off. No such luck with this one.
By the way, I experienced that 4.7 earthquake while watching this piece of shit at the Century Summit. Before the temblor, I was slumped in my seat all depressed at the movie. Sat up straight after that mother! It was like Satan was trying to come through the floor and take the movie back to Hell where it belongs.