Eric D. Snider

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Movie Review

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: C+

Released: April 25, 2008

 

Directed by:

Cast:

It's easy to see how Harold and Kumar, the merry stoners last seen looking for a White Castle, could be mistaken for terrorists. One is Middle-Eastern-looking and one is Korean (North Korean???). They are fanatical and devoted, albeit to marijuana and not religion. And on an airplane, over the roar of the engines, the word "bong" can sound a lot like "bomb."

That is how our heroes, played by the under-appreciated duo of John Cho and Kal Penn, wind up in the predicament suggested by the title of "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay." The escape happens with in the film's first 15 minutes, though; the rest is a meandering road trip movie, just like the last one, with Harold and Kumar trying to clear their names and get the NSA off their backs. Like most comedy sequels, it is not as funny as its predecessor -- but, like most comedy sequels, that won't matter too much if you get stoned before you watch it.

Being on the lam is the boys' foremost concern, but Kumar has an additional problem in that his ex-girlfriend, Vanessa (Danneel Harris), is about to marry a preppy Republican tool named Colton (Eric Winter). Kumar would like to stop the wedding ... oh, and he'd also like to use Colton's wealthy family's political ties to get him and Harold out of hot water.

Where "White Castle" blended its stoner humor with race-related comedy that was surprisingly trenchant, "Guantanamo Bay" gets even more ambitious by throwing politics into the mix. The NSA is represented by Ron Fox (Rob Corddry), a breathtakingly racist pinhead who personifies the complaints many people have about the NSA and the "war on terror." He refuses to believe Harold and Kumar when they tell him he's made a mistake about their being terrorists; after all he can plainly SEE their ethnicities. What more proof does he need? He doggedly pursues the fugitives throughout the film, and his several attempts to get information from people of various minority groups are gloriously politically incorrect, managing to make fun of racial stereotypes while indulging in them, too.

Written and directed by the team of Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (who wrote the first film but have never directed before), "Guantanamo Bay" repeats a lot of the gags from "White Castle" (there's that giant bag of weed again!), and the cameo by Neil Patrick Harris as a badass version of himself is once again the highlight. There are some truly good comic ideas sprinkled throughout the film -- the problem is, they're surrounded by a lot of filler, including some very uninspired road-trip hijinks. (It's weird to think that the "minorities running into a Klan meeting in the woods" scenario could be an overused comedy cliché, but it sure is.) Then again, the stoner-comedy genre is always hit-and-miss, and how much you miss might depend on how many hits you've taken, if you catch my drift.

Grade: C+

Rated R, abundant harsh profanity and crude language, and a lot of nudity and sexual dialogue

1 hr., 35 min.

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This item has 8 comments

  1. Kumar says:

    i loved the first movie i was blazed when i watched this one and its as good as the first then agian i was stoned


    Smoke

  2. Clumpy says:

    Plagiarism of Roger Ebert's review will not be tolerated on this website.

  3. O says:

    I think this is a very hilarious movie. I heard few racial slurs when this dude of color kissed the white chick in the movie. I could tell that some reviewers probably felt the same pain to see a white chick falling for a nonwhite dude. I urge you to see the movie again.

  4. wentzel25 says:

    I, too, thought it was hilarious. both H & Ks do a great job mixing blatant slapstick humor with witty social satire. And come on, Eric, no mention of the George W. Bush scene? His take on hypocrisy was one of the funniest lines to me.

  5. Carrie Boyd says:

    This is an awsome movie!! its so funny... i want to watch it over and over and over...

  6. Vidya Sagar Rao says:

    this is a great movie and has much social significane to the present day environment that we live in.

    There is a huge social undercurrent compared to the superficial comical presentation this movie has. it mildly touches upon items like freedom responsibility, present social structure parent child relationships. etc.

    take for instance the scene where a security guard tries to stop kumar and check him for drugs and kumar uses the much used card of racism and gets away with drugs in his pants. You would find a lot of such stuff going on any where in the world u stop an asian or an american doing something wrong and if the guy is a bit educated he know that he can play this card of discrimination and get away with small crimes, and people play it.

    then this card comes back to haunt him when the inspector (robb corddyry wipes his *** with the fifth Amendment). it is like a situation where there are no rights.

    it is an amazingly beautiful movie and should be watched with an open mind and one would find a lot of things to dwell upon.

    Things like what are rights - when can the rights be curtailed and what are the mechanisms where one can ensure this is judiciously applied......

    Amazing movie, would have been better if it came with some good camera work.

  7. Clumpy says:

    Isn't it funny how customs LEAVING the U.S. checks you very thoroughly, while entering the U.S. is as easy as walking past a bored security guard? I entered the United States from the Philippines with $200 worth of pirated DVDs and handbags* while a guard harrassed a woman at the immigrations desk just because she wasn't a U.S. citizen and had to go that route.

    *I'm not a smuggler - I just like pirated DVDs and handbags.

  8. AWOL says:

    Eric-

    I appreciate everything you write and you are by far my favorite critic. That being said, your review/plot synopsis contained a rather large error. Rob Corddry did not represent the NSA. He represented the Department of Homeland Security. Roger Bart playing Dr. Beecher was the Assistant Secretrary of the NSA. SPOILER*.* The NSA were actually very helpful to both our protagonists as well as their parents.

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