ENTERTAINMENT/FILM

Opening Day Review:
‘Harold And Kumar
Escape From Guantanamo Bay’

HAROLD & KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY (R)

MOVIE BIASES
Pre-(inhales) sold (exhaaaaaaaales…)!

MAJOR PLAYERS
Kal Penn, John Cho, Neil Patrick Harris, and writers/directors Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg

LOGLINE
While en route to Amsterdam to hook up Harold (Cho) with his could-be girlfriend Maria (Paula Garces) and smoke hella weed, Harold & Kumar (Penn) are accused of being terrorists mid-flight. They get detained in Guantanamo Bay, escape (duh) via Cuban refugee raft, and trek across the American South to Kumar’s ex’s (Daneel Harris) wedding in Texas, where the pair hope her well-connected fiancée can help clear their names. Hilarity - and Neil Patrick Harris - ensues.

THE DEAL
Let’s get the obvious joke out of the way, for those of you who skip the review entirely and just check the reels. No, I am NOT high. But I am high for “Harold & Kumar.” As a fan of the first one (I not-so-boldly declared it “a cult classic waiting to happen” in my review four years ago), I knew what to expect: weed, mega-gratuitous nudity, ganja, unrestrained use of profanity, sticky icky, Neil Patrick Harris, and, yes, more of the magnificent Mary J. What I did not expect was this sequel to be - dare I say it? Okay, I dare - better than the first (you may launch your flaming arrows and negativity…now).

Yeah, I said it - it’s BETTER. Hell, it’s more of everything you loved about the first one (if you’ve read this far in the review, I assume you loved it, right? RIGHT??), more offensive (Rob Corddry’s blatantly ignorant and overzealous Homeland Security executive waggles grape soda at blacks and loose change at Jews to induce them to talk), more politically incorrect (in-bred Southerners, KKK parties), more crude (ugggh, wait ’til you get a load of the “blowkin”), and more of our favorite former “Doogie Howser, M.D.” star (Neil Patrick Harris: “I’m going to a whorehouse!” Well, alrighty then).

Okay, fine - more doesn’t always equal better. The new stuff does, however. Hurwitz & Schlossberg provide charming back stories for our heroes in college while sneaking in a surprisingly patriotic message in the midst of its stereotype skewering.

If anything is to be found among such infantile humor, it’s the Hurwitz-Schlossberg trademark deconstruction of stereotypes. First, decry them. Second, explode them with a clever, anti-stereotypical twist. Before finally embracing the nugget of truth from whence they came (aren’t most stereotypes often based in a kernel of truth?).

Remove the strippers, the Big Bag of Weed (she’s BACK!), and the infantile scat humor, and you have a sociopolitical satire of the smartest order. They all don’t have to be Aaron Sorkin gabfests.

You also have an extremely durable “bromance” between the two leads, who just so happen to be Korean-American and Indian-American best friends. Penn excels as the boundary-less Kumar, genetically predisposed to having a good time wherever he’s at, or vice versa - usually aided by his favorite green narcotic. Having his ex-girlfriend set to marry a bleepin’ “douchebag” gives the previously fearless Kumar Patel a reason for pause, concern, and even genuine emotion.

Cho’s newly liberated Harold reverts to uptight, “not worthwhile” form when the pressure’s on, not only pla