Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

Generally, I am a dude who likes to watch his "serious" art films, and does not have any time whatsoever for comedy of this sort. However, I feel that if it is pulled off well, that they can be certainly be very enjoyable. The Harold and Kumar films are some of the best examples of this subgenre of comedy, along with Borat, over the past decade. Alright, picking up moments after the original, Harold and Kumar decide to go to Amsterdam, so that they can meet up there with Harold's love interest, and of course, smoke some pot. That's really all you need to know about the new movie. As usual, John Cho and Kal Penn fill the roles of Harold and Kumar with great gusto, and as soon as we watch the film, we realise what made us fall in love with the original. They have great chemistry, making it completely believable that they have been friends for many years, and create a great twist on the straight guy/funny guy comedy duo. Personally, I feel that they are among the best comedic duos, along with guys like Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, in film today. You really know you are on to something good whenever you have such a great team. Also, I believe that it is great that two men who of a foreign ethnicity than the general "American" white man are getting such an opportunity to create comic genius. Returning in a role which in a way reinvented his career is the man who almost steals the show from Cho and Penn, Neil Patrick Harris. Once again as a fictionalised version of himself, his character is so ridiculous a parody of celebrity lifestyle that you have to wonder if there is anything "wrong" in any way whatsoever Neil Patrick Harris hasen't done. Also, any great comedy movie generally requires a great script, especially in a buddy comedy, with the two leads having to bounce off each other like ping ping balls. The script perfectly caters to Cho and Penn, being given the material which helps make not only their journeys as funny as they are, but also helps make the audience become involved with the leads emotionally, intentional or not. After seeing both films, Harold and Kumar almost become friends, you know them so well, have entered their world via the camera, and you do not want anything bad to happen to them. In terms of natural progression from the original low-budget movie, the producers have made a wise choice in translating Harold and Kumar into a bigger script. However, with regards to this progression, although it does seem like the logical choice, is it really the right choice for Harold and Kumar? Their adventures were always were going to be ridiculous and entrenched in hyper-reality, but even for Harold and Kumar this adventure seems out of place. The original Harold and Kumar was set across one day/night, and it pretty obvious what the point of the movie was, simple as could be (the adventure was to a fast food resturant). The point of this movie is so that they can get to Amsterdam and meet up with Harold's girlfriend. Instead of proceeding in the logical direction, Harold and Kumar (and the audience) are consistently sidetracked and bombarded with the subplots that riddle so many other movies. Also, the title is rather misleading. I'm sorry to be a bit pernickity about it, but whenever the movie is called Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanemo Bay, it is rather misleading when only five minutes of the movie is set in the infamous prison. I was expecting at first a parody of the prison movie genre. Virtually everything leading up to their imprisonment was brilliant. Once they escape, it just diverts from Harold and Kumar and proceeds into scenes of mass nudity, incest and political satire. I personally just believe that a journey of this sort is too big for Harold and Kumar. The first film is a simple, laid-back, relaxed stoner comedy. This is just gross-out cum politcal satire multiple genre bombardment of the senses. That is not to say that one does not get kicks out of certain parts in the movie. Cho and Penn as a comedic duo make the most out of every situation, managing to seemingly conjure laughs out of thin air. Also, although I was not a fan of the political satire in the film, one cannot help but get a kick out of watching George W. Bush hiding from Dick Cheney and sharing a joint with the leads. It is moments like this that help make it a much better movie than what it could have been. Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanemo Bay is an enjoyable romp, with a great reprise of roles from John Cho and Kal Penn, with some great dialogue which really caters to their characters. However, it suffers in its progression and change in style of film. Not that I have a problem with different sequels, its just that this suffers from lack of structure and focus, with too many subplots and sidetracks from the goal distracting the audience and the leads from their goal.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.8/10

No comments: