Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008)

escape from guantanamo bay IMDb

I was not looking forward to more adventures with Harold and Kumar. The first was meh, and quite frankly I was expecting a near rehash of the first movie here. I mean, how many weed jokes could there possibly be? Apparently not that many, because Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay focuses less on getting high and more on taking the piss out of post-9/11 America. Not the first place I’d look for comedy gold, but this movie is surprisingly good.

To find this movie “surprisingly good” you need to go in with low expectations. It’s definitely not a great movie, but there are enough laughs to make it enjoyable. Once again racial stereotypes are poked fun at, and John Cho and Kal Penn continue to have great chemistry. Another returning highlight is Neil Patrick Harris, whose career was given a big boost after his appearance in Go to White Castle.

My main issue with this movie is the entire Guantanamo Bay angle. Yes, it’s very relevant even today, but I found the scenes taking place in the infamous prison uncomfortable and unfunny. I’m not sure this is something to laugh at, but Harold and Kumar’s imprisonment and escape is mercifully short. The bulk of the movie shows them evading the police back on American soil which is much easier to watch. I also wasn’t a fan of the guys lighting up with George W. Bush. This just seemed like lazy writing, and the actor’s impression of the former president is so-so (though I’m sure he was told to go full caricature).

Overall, I did find Escape funnier than White Castle. Neither are great movies, but Escape had slightly more mature jokes and a plot that has something more relevant to say. Still, it’s amazing that this spawned yet another sequel (and even more amazing, Ben purchased it).

Rating: D+

This film was the opposite of the sequel that proceeded it, because I remembered it being terrible, but I did find myself laughing quite a lot when we watched it. The film has lovable stoners Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) on their way to Amsterdam to track down Harold’s love interest from the first film (Paula Garces). Obviously trouble occurs when the two non-white males are mistaken for terrorists while boarding and eventually find themselves in Guantanamo. The two find a way out and must now travel across the country in an attempt to clear their names.

The film is quite funny and really plays up on the fact that racial stereotyping still happens and happens all the time, especially at airports after 9/11. There were some amusing moments in this film, such as the guys bonding session with George W Bush, and the scenes on the plane are also funny.

Obviously I can’t talk about a Harold and Kumar film without mentioning Neil Patrick Harris. He appears again as a caricature of himself, playing a coked up stripper addict who helps Harold and Kumar out of some jams. He is very funny, really playing up the fact that in reality he couldn’t be further from how he is portrayed in this film.

Harold & Kumar is a fun film, but it is also very relevant. With all the talk these days about airport security and racial stereotyping, the film is somewhat more relevant than when it was originally released. Harold & Kumar is an amusing movie, carried well by solid leads John Cho and Kal Penn, who still have terrific chemistry, just as they did in the first film.

Rating: B-

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