"Harold and Kumar" escapes from the mold

April 30, 2008, midnight | By Sean Howard | 14 years ago

Infamous duo returns in psychedelic colors

Without missing a beat, Harold and Kumar return to the big screen in the boldest manner possible. "Escape from Guantanamo Bay" has everything that made the first a success and more: racy humor, ethnic jokes, general hilarity and two new directors, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg.

Starting right where "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" left off, the duo featuring Harold Lee (John Cho) and Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) fly to Amsterdam so Harold can pursue a budding romance with his neighbor, Maria (Paula Garcés). After a brief struggle with security, the pair boards the plane. Midflight, Kumar follows Harold to the restroom with his new invention: a smokeless bong. As a speechless Harold hastily exits the restroom, someone sees Kumar lighting the bong. Harold says, "It's okay, it's just a bong," and which another passenger mistakes for: "It's a bomb!"

Air marshals quickly detain both men and turn the plane around to Washington, D.C., where an overzealous and dim-witted undersecretary of Homeland Security, Ron Fox (Rob Corddry), interrogates the pair and sends them to Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.

The script tackles every stereotype about every group possible. In one instance, Fox interrogates Harold and Kumar's Jewish friends, Chevitz Goldstein (David Krumholtz) and Manny Rosenberg (Eddie Kaye Thomas) by slowly pouring a pouch filled with coins all over the table. The pair appears uninterested and clearly offended, but as soon as Fox leaves the room the boys scramble for the coins.

Similarly, Fox interrogates a black witness in Birmingham, Alabama by pouring a can of grape soda into the street. While the witness is deeply insulted, another other black man in the scene asks if they have Kool-aid.

Oddly enough, Corddry does not live up to his role on "The Daily Show" and is not nearly as funny as the singular bad guy in the story. He is funny at times, but only because of the dialogue given to his character, not because any part of his personality is projected onto his role.

As far as politics go, "Escape from G-Bay" doesn't get too political on the surface. Fox is clearly not an individual that could obtain such a high government position but instead represents the voodoo doll of the collective incompetence and prejudice that frequently afflicts the U.S. government. Contrary to what the title may suggest, very little of the film is actually spent in Guantanamo Bay and an even lesser amount of time is spent focusing on the actual conditions and hardships endured by those in the facility.

The first "Harold and Kumar" flick had a subtle narrative about everyone, especially immigrants, pursuing the American dream and getting what they wanted out of life — an uplifting tale that made it a huge success. The sequel instead contains a narrative about the ways in which America has changed, an ambitious goal that causes the film to lose focus. The movie tries to tackle racial profiling, torture, stereotypes, illegal immigration and so much more in just 100 minutes.

Despite being overambitious, "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" is easily the funniest movie of the spring and is worthy of the classic status that the first still holds.

"Harold Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" runs 100 minutes and is rated R for strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, and drug use. It is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Sean Howard. There is a spy among us and his name is Sean Howard. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Sean moved to Germantown prior to his current residence in Gaithersburg. Although he has now lived in Maryland for most of his life, he has retained his loyalty to … More »

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