Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (**)
It takes Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) approximately 10 minutes to escape from Guantanamo Bay, during which time they meet real terrorists in the cell beside them and fend off advances from a big, fat guard looking for a blowjob (known to Gitmo inmates as a “cockmeat sandwich”). After that, they flee with some Cuban refugees to Florida, and it’s back to the picaresque journey that defined their first film: this time, instead of White Castle, they head toward the Texas wedding of Kumar’s ex, who is marrying a “douche” with political connections that might help to acquit them.
Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay can thus be described as irreverent, but hardly as polemic. Yes, Western straight-boy comedies have never given a Korean and an Indian this much agency before, but that’s no reason to herald the film as audacious (consider Cheech and Chong—a Mexican-American and a Chinese-Ukrainian, respectively—and Harold and Kumar’s race card seems even less novel). Rather, writers and directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg engage in the schoolboyish showboating that has defined humour this decade; from the Farrellys to Apatow, look at the guts we’ve got to identify stereotypes, to criticize them as mean, and then to yield to them a bit, because, let’s face it, they’re freakin’ hilarious.
Unsurprisingly, Harold & Kumar’s wildness is quelled by the presences of their paramours, sexy, sassy ladies who love them for the stoner goofs they are. This may be misogynist, but it’s mostly just depressingly predictable: Who is the marketing guru in Hollywood doctoring all the crass scripts with these mushy, pat romantic endings? Presumably this is meant to appease the sensitive girlfriends who get dragged to such movies, and then to flatter their boyfriends into thinking a similar affection waits for them. In any case, it works against many of the claims Harold & Kumar makes for subversive grandeur.
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is now playing at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond St. W.), the Beach Cinema (1651 Queen St. E.) and SilverCity Yonge & Eglinton (2300 Yonge St.).