It's one o'clock a.m. and I just came back from watching Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay with a packed theater mainly consisting of Indian and Asian people. Needless to say, it was a blast watching the film with this audience, especially since the film throws out more than a few racial punches along the way. After drinking two cups of Limoncello, I am also feeling a slight buzz, so forgive me if this review is a bit chaotic.
To be blunt: Harold and Kumar 2 is pretty good, but not as good as the original. I hope no one went into the theater expecting anything more than that, as the first Harold and Kumar was about as good as stoner comedies get. This second adventure picks up literally an hour after the first one ended, as our two heroes, played by John Cho and Kal Penn respectively, set out for Amsterdam so Harold can hook up with Maria. Unfortunately, after a scare on the airplane, the two are placed in Guantanamo Bay by the U.S. government. They manage to escape, and set out for Texas where they try to unite with the one person who can help them - and where Kumar can stop the love of his life get married to the wrong guy.
Like the first one, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is pretty random, as the two guys find themselves in one zany situation after the next. From Cuba to a pantless party to the KKK to a cyclops kid to Neil Patrick Harris on shrooms, the plot is one wild trip after the next. There are a lot of laughs - the cyclops is my favorite, though a scene at the end where the duo smoke pot with a very influential figure is also quite memorable - and writers/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, who did the first one, maintain consistency for the most part. Thankfully, they continue the story rather than rehash jokes that were brought up in the original; Harold and Kumar 2 is its own movie.
That being said, the movie isn't as hilarious as the original. One can't really fault a sequel for not living up to its predecessor, but there are a few places that could have been tightened or fleshed out to make the jokes flow a little better. The editing seemed awkward in a few places, making me wonder if there were a lot of scenes left on the cutting room floor. The KKK sequence and, surprisingly, the Guantanamo Bay sequence are both oddly short, and seem more like an afterthought rather than full plot elements. Had Hurwitz and Schlossberg drilled into each scene a little more, the movie could have been better; as is, some of the scenes are rushed and don't live up to their full potential.
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is a fun movie that stays true to the original without repeating elements that have already been done. It isn't without its flaws, but it's an entertaining and funny movie nonetheless. If you liked Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, you'll enjoy this one as well.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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