The Holiday season is approaching, which means it’s time for that yearly viewing of A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas. Sure, the film only came out last year, but it’s a must for fans of stoner comedies or just low-brow humor in general. The Harold & Kumar trilogy is a must-watch at this point, with each of their wild adventures somehow managing to top the previous. It started at White Castle and then it went to Guantanamo Bay, only to end up back at home for a Christmas blowout like no other. Of course none of this could happen without Neil Patrick Harris scattered about.
It started with Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. A seemingly harmless little stoner flick that stirred up some White Castle attention, while also providing a means of escape for those itching for a stoner comedy that wasn’t afraid to blend together some high times and Neil Patrick Harris. The paring of actors John Cho and Kal Penn will go down as one of the best duos since Cheech and Chong. The influence is heavy and yet Penn and Cho managed to make three highly original adventures, each offering up a wilder ride than the last. White Castle was just the beginning.
They took the series to new heights with the sequel, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. This time the two best buddies found themselves on the wrong (or right?) side of the law, with Rob Corddry personally stepping in to escort them to the gates of hell. Guantanamo Bay is one of those rare sequels that never tires itself out. Its formula is almost shot-for-shot the same as the first film, in some areas, but it provides you with a mostly new story featuring our now favorite stoner characters. I consider Guantanamo Bay an equal sequel that loses nothing from the original, but never surpasses it.
The good folks over at New Line Cinema (now owned completely by Warner Bros.) somehow gave the greenlight for a 3D Christmas-themed finale, which brought back the two, plus their iconic friend Neil Patrick Harris. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas works well as a gimmicky 3D Holiday flick, but it cracks under pressure when viewed in 2D at home. The film is mostly an event-oriented experience that just can’t be replicated properly, unless you have an awesome 3D setup and enough buddies with glasses and boos to help fuel the film.
It keeps the same style of jokes and adds to the insanity, but it almost goes overboard, which I thought wasn’t possible for a Harold & Kumar picture. It’s the weakest and yet most star-studded film of the three. It’s fun watching our old pals rekindle the flames, but it almost feels too soon for the this specific story, especially since the two were last seen just three years prior.
Still, downfalls and all the Harold & Kumar trilogy is a funny one and one that will warrant multiple viewings from me as the years pass. I’m not sure if they ever plan on getting back together for a fourth outing or not. I’d certainly welcome the idea, but at the same time Id’ be fine if they just left it alone… for now.
The three films retain their previously released video and audio transfers. The first film is sharply presented, although a little dated. The second and third films show strong improvement, with clarity much stronger and black levels more consistent. Several things must be factored when viewing this films, like the individual budgets and video encodes used at the time of transferring.
Here’s where things get a little tricky. The first two films come with New Line Cinema’s traditional 7.1 lossless audio tracks, while the third film is stuck with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for the theatrical cut and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track for the extended cut. I still have no idea why WB decided to give the extended cut a lossy audio track, but it doesn’t completely ruin the package.
The exact same bonus material found on the previously released discs are present in this package, plus some all-new goodies, like scented car air-fresheners and a six drink coaster set.
The Harold & Kumar Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray is a set that is worth a purchase if you haven’t already acquired the films individually. The discs are identical, with the only real difference being the metal case that this set is packaged in, plus the added goodies that I listed above.
Those looking to own all three films in one case will want to pick this one up right away, because it’s cheap and it gets the job done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if WB released a real “end all” set down the road, which would contain both theatrical and unrated cuts for the first two films, plus a 3D copy of the third one.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.