Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Flick Check: Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Flick Check: Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay: Why is it there are some puerile, raunchy gagfests that I can't stand (Something About Mary) and some I think are tremendous (Superbad)? Whatever it is Harold and Kumar Escape... is one of the good ones. It's truly silly to try to do a review of such a film; anybody can guess what it's about. It picks up where the first one left off with H & K on their way to Amsterdam where they intend to smoke more weed than anyone in the history of the known universe. Thanks to Kumar's uncompromising irresponsibility they end up arrested and tossed in Guantanamo, from which they escape and journey through the Deep South to get to Texas where they believe they will find help. Along the way they have various asinine encounters with assorted cliched rubes and authority figures, including George W. Bush.

Aside: I had reached the point where GWB parodies really got under my skin. It was like being forced to watch an endless litany of Michael Bay movies: the same thing over and over, as if it were some sort of obligation. Otherwise respectable artistic works all seemed to have a perfunctory snark angle about GWB. They ceased to be funny or witty or sharp, but people kept doing it because they felt they were doing the world a social service. Well, to paraphrase Woody Allen, if you want to do the world a service, write funnier jokes. Anyway, the one in this movie was kinda cute and fun.

None of that explains why I liked it, though, so let's see: John Cho and Kal Penn (H & K) are fine comic actors; the pacing was just shy of frenetic; H & K were never made to be stupid losers, just swamped by events; parodies and cartoonish villains were not drawn in anger or hostility, just for comic purpose; there was actually a nice human subplot with Kumar reconnecting with a lost love (excellent work by Kal Penn) -- that's about it, nothing extraordinary. Nothing to explain why I would like this and not other raunchfests. Maybe the writing by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (same team as H & K Go to White Castle) is just exceptionally skilled. Who knows? But I was glad to hear they are churning out a third screenplay. Cool.