John Cho, Kal Penn, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas

New Line Productions

Review in a Hurry: Once the best of buds, stoner dudes Harold and Kumar reunite for a drug-fueled night before Christmas. Fans of the series will laugh (more so if they "prepare" before viewing). For everyone else, this isn't the worst (Guantanamo) or the best (White Castle) in the series. John Cho and newly unretired actor Kal Penn easily fall back into their iconic roles, and scene-stealer Neil Patrick Harris still to steal a scene.

Has there ever been a film where a toddler gets stoned, coked up and trips on ecstasy? Yeah, that's kind of love-it-or-hate-it humor we're in for.

The Bigger Picture: After newly suburbanized Harold ruins his father-in law's (Danny Trejo) Christmas tree, Kumar (who helped ruin it) convinces his old friend to venture out of the 'burbs and into trouble. Avoiding thugs with guns, partaking in dance numbers and engaging in all those classic mind-bending extracurricular activities are on the night's menu.

There are plenty of in jokes for fans and a few (kinda tired) pop-culture references thrown in to pad the scant 90 minute run time, but mostly this third outing sticks to what stoner comedies do best: taking any type of situation and making it all about drug jokes. A John Woo-style gunfight is nothing more than an excuse to put Cho and Penn in slo-mo while the screen explodes (in very meh 3-D) with enough white powder to put Tony Montana to shame. Even Santa takes a bong hit.

The high points include a lecherous NPH claiming the gay-thing is just a PR stunt. Another is seeing the duo face off against a bunch of obnoxious teens who think Harold and Kumar are over the hill. That scene comes down to a beer bong contest. A nice reference to the original film.

Too often though the production is flat and uninspired. The supporting cast, which includes Patton Oswalt, is underutilized. And while the jokes can push the limits of good taste, like having that 2-year-old take every drug available, the results are usually nothing more than a few goofy looks or an overuse of sped up photography.

All this probably won't matter to the film's fans though. A good baked time with Harold and Kumar is all they crave.

The 180—a Second Opinion: While all the ads love to poke fun at how played out the whole 3D thing is, that doesn't make wearing those annoying glasses any better. The too obvious crude things popping off the screen (poop and worse) hardly justifies the inflated ticket price. Odds are, most of H&K fans are gonna wait to score this on DVD anyway.

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