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  Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Innocence Personified
Year: 2008
Director: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Stars: John Cho, Kal Penn, Rob Corddry, Jack Conley, Roger Bart, Neil Patrick Harris, Danneel Harris, Eric Winter, Paula Garcés, Jon Reep, Missi Pyle, Mark Munoz, James Adomian, Beverly D'Angelo, David Krumholtz, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Clyde Kusatsu, Ed Helms
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Harold Lee (John Cho) and Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) had quite an adventure last night, but there was a happy resolution: Harold finally admitted to next door neighbour Maria (Paula Garcés) that he has admired her from afar for quite some time, and she told him the feeling was mutual. The trouble was, she is a model who is off to a job in Amsterdam for a couple of weeks, but impulsive Kumar persuades his friend to follow her and surprise her by turning up in the Dutch city to proclaim his love. First things first, however: they have to get there, which might prove tricky...

This comedy duo's first outing had become a cult movie, especially on home video, so it was an obvious choice for writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg to pen a follow up to track more cross-country adventures for the misfits, although Kumar is the one who keeps getting them into trouble. The writers turned directors on this entry, which some grumbled wasn't as funny as the initial instalment, but the fans were more of the opinion that they well lived up to the promise, delivering anything goes humour with an anti-establishment tone, and of course appealling to the stoners watching who had new heroes to replace Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong in their affections.

Well, maybe not completely eclipse them, but at least prove themselves worthy pretenders to that throne for a new generation of, let's say comedy fans for you didn't have to be off your head on hash to appreciate the jokes here: they stood up well enough on their own. This time, as the title suggested, our heroes became fugitives when Kumar brings his "smokeless bong" onto the Amsterdam flight and it gets mistaken for a bomb: they are immediately arrested because the lawmen aboard think they're terrorists, which gives you an idea of the more serious aspect to the plot, which was so well hidden you might be forgiven for missing it completely, yet was there, a dedication to shooting down stereotypes in flames.

In effect, this Harold and Kumar effort took the mindset that most people do not fit into the categories society puts them in, or one part of society at any rate. That area which would see everyone conforming to their own little pockets of class, race, gender, occupation or whatever, that's what was being laughed at here, so Kumar objects loudly to being pulled out of line at customs because he thinks he's accused of being a terrorist, except this allows him to get away with smuggling the drugs onto the plane, so the officer was right to suspect him, it's just that he had the wrong reasons for doing so. Therefore life in all its multifarious tapestry is represented by a movie which includes a joke about a sexual fantasy threesome between a man, a woman and a huge bag of weed which she ends up fisting.

Who is this woman? She's a new character, Vanessa (Danneel Harris), who Harold and Kumar meet at the airport as she heads off South for her wedding to handsome, successful businessman Colton (Eric Winter), not someone Kumar warms to at all when he used to date Vanessa in college, and she led him astray into pot smoking. So can both men get together with the loves of their lives when they have been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay? It's going to take a plan to get out of this one, although in effect they simply blunder through their mishaps from nutty character to unfortunate situation; rest assured, Neil Patrick Harris makes a return appearance and is even more eccentric than he was first time around, if "eccentric" is the word - utterly insane might be more apt. If this was very much a George W. Bush-era comedy with agent Rob Corddry hunting them down as a ludicrously clueless bigot, its "you've gotta laugh" verve providing the chuckles, at times hilariously. Music by George S. Clinton.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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