REVIEW: Harold and Kumar 2 Escape from Guantanamo Bay [R]
New Line Cinema
Release Date: April 25, 2008
Directors: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Starring: John Cho and Kal Penn
Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are back in Harold and Kumar 2 Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the long-awaited sequel to the 2004 surprise cult-hit where the two overcame great and numerous misadventures while craving White Castle’s delicious little burgers.
Picking up moments after the end of the first film, Harold and Kumar are getting ready to embark on a greater journey, this time following Harold’s love-interest, Maria (Paula Garcés, Red Princess Blues). While on the airplane, Kumar decides to test out his newly invented smokeless bong in the bathroom. Mistaken for a terrorist with bomb-in-hand, our heroes are subdued and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which they manage to escape from in little time.
To clear their names, they turn to an old college friend (Eric Winter) with important political connections. The only conflict here? He’s about to marry Kumar’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Harris, One Tree Hill) and Kumar is intent on stopping their union, no matter the risk.
While Harold and Kumar remain marijuana aficionados, this adventure, much like the last, can hardly be considered a “stoner flick,” as there remains the political and racial humor that made the duo’s first outing so refreshing. Fans of the franchise can expect more shots aimed at the Bush administration, as well as even greater ones taken at the US government itself. In fact, popular Bush impersonator James Adomian (The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Mind of Mencia) appears as good ol’ G.W. to remind Harold and Kumar what it means to be an American.
And while they may have managed to spin the controversial presidency in a way that won’t offend liberals or conservatives, writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (who also directed and produced) should be even more commended for the manner in which they continually expose the ridiculous stereotypes that exist in our society, particular those of the post-9/11 United States. Perhaps the most laugh-inducing moment of the film comes when Harold and Kumar, after having escaped confinement, drive through an urban neighborhood while on their way to Texas. Practically every stereotype associated with living in the ‘hood is exposed here, from Air Jordan sneakers to loud hip-hop music to kool-aid. However, this form of satire is equally aimed at the various ethnicities featured in the film’s wide-range of characters, with the majority of this coming from Rod Corddry’s (Semi-Pro) portrayal of Ron Fox, the government official whose personal mission is to chase the two fugitives around the country. It is his penchant for racial profiling that allows him to become this caricature of the ignorance of racism.
Along with Cho, Penn, and, Garcés, returning are David Krumholtz (Superbad) as Goldstein, Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie) as Rosenberg, and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), reprising what is arguably the most prolific role of his storied career as an overly perverse and eccentric version of himself.
– Christopher Griffin