Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay My Reviews 29 JUL 2008

Harold and KumarLast week Chantelle and I made the fateful decision to go and watch the latest Harold and Kumar movie, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, a decision based entirely on the fact that Chantelle had laughed when she’d originally seen the trailer for the movie a while back.

Now while neither of us have seen the original movie (Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) that this one follows directly on from, we did at least go in knowing it revolves around the misadventures of the two stoners and follows the typical gross-out and shock tactic humour that a lot of American movies targeting the teen and twenties market successfully employ these days.

What we didn’t know however that this was one of the stupidest, biggest waste of time (and offensive, but we knew that going into the movie) productions that we have ever seen, so much so that we didn’t even bother staying right through to the end, choosing rather to get the last bits of the story from its Wikipedia entry instead!

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay tells the story of straight-laced Harold (John Cho) and trouble-making slacker Kumar (Kal Penn) who manage to get themselves mistaken as terrorists on an Amsterdam-bound flight thanks to Kumar’s insistence of smoking his home-made “smokeless” bong in-flight! Thanks to a particularly ignorant undersecretary of Homeland Security, Ron Fox (Rob Corddry), the two of them find themselves immediately slapped into irons and transported off to Guantanamo Bay and the inviting prospect of “cock meat sandwiches” for lunch.

Of course the two of them don’t stay locked up for long, and after a mad-dash escape, the two of them find themselves in Miami and hatch a plan to try and clear their names (and at the same time perhaps wreck Kumar’s ex-girlfriend’s wedding!) So now Harold and Kumar find themselves in a desperate run to Texas, pursued closely by the American authorities as well as all those other groups they manage to piss off in the process!

Yeah, so okay, the story sounds pretty doable and a prime candidate for some good humour, but unfortunately the scriptwriters decide to go for as much gross-out and offensive humour as possible, and in so doing end up writing a movie that simple isn’t funny, a blame that might also equally be shared on Penn and Cho’s shoulders as they fail to elicit any big laughs from their audience, simply thanks to the fact that they AREN’T funny!

The movie jumps from scene to scene and we skip from ghetto to inbred Southern folks to Ku Klux Klan, shifting between cringing scenes in a blink of an eye as the film tries to squeeze as much “humour” as possible by twisting these scenarios and throwing them completely on their heads.

I think perhaps the movie fails thanks to two main reasons. Firstly, as I’ve already mentioned, Cho, Penn and the rest of the cast just genuinely don’t come across as funny and while the humour is easily compared to hits like American Pie, it simply doesn’t work as well thanks to this lack of loveable, funny main characters. Secondly, although there is enough of a back story to drive the movie along, it doesn’t feature an engaging enough story to lock you into enjoying the movie, something that similar ‘genre’ movies like 40 Year Old Virgin managed to do so well.

In the end this movie relies entirely on a lot of crude, offensive and toilet humour in order to get its laughs and honestly, you have to be pretty common or slow-witted to really, really enjoy this movie. Sure they might pull in the occasional small giggle or little laugh, but overall Guantanamo Bay just fails, both in its attempts at ‘social commentary’ and all out humour. Be warned that there is quite a bit of nudity (think bottomless parties instead of topless), sexual gags, racial and stereotypical offensiveness, as well as the obvious drug references to be expected. You might giggle a bit at this movie, which admittedly is well executed and can’t be faulted on any technical aspect, but don’t waste your time paying good money to go and see it – or at least be already stoned or drunk if you are going to anyway.

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Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_%26_Kumar_Escape_from_Guantanamo_Bay

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.