While many lauded Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle as something barely short of visionary, others took the more sensible approach of recognising its strengths in the context of what the film actually is – one of the first in the recent renaissance in the stoner comedy genre. Although fans will enjoy the second instalment in the amazing adventures of Harold & Kumar, the overriding sense throughout the film is that this weed has already been smoked.
It is barely hours since they gorged at White Castle and Harold and Kumar are preparing for their trip to Amsterdam – Harold (John Cho) is chasing his luscious neighbour Maria (Paula Garcés), while Kumar (Kal Penn) still doesn’t want to go to his medical school interviews. When a misunderstanding on their flight ends with them labelled terrorists, the pair are transported to Guantanamo Bay for further interrogation, only to promptly escape and set off on another cross-country adventure. They will encounter many dangers along the way, not the least being another chance meeting with Neil Patrick Harris.
The schtick that worked so well in the first H&K film is reproduced almost word-for-word in the second, and this time seems a little stale. The film follows a vaguely planned roadtrip, while focussing more on the misfortunes that follow the duo than the journey itself. This works to some degree, although the sense that the audience is getting behind H&K as they fight injustice and strive for their righteous goal is somewhat less present.
The stars reprise their roles without any hint of the passing of time between the films, and both do a fine job but again without shining as they did in White Castle. Supporting cast are adequate, with Rob Corddry stealing most of his scenes as the bizarre Homeland Security officer who gives writer/director pair Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg their best chance at landing punches against what they perceive to be racist policies of the US government post-9/11. Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is more overtly political than its predecessor and perhaps suffers for it – the film is at its best when focussed on its romantic heart.
Although certainly not a complete waste of time or money, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay must go down as another in the long list of sequels to which the major reaction is ‘why?’, and yet there are already rumours of a third film in the series. This will probably provide entertainment on a night in, but save your $15.50.Rating: