Movie/DVD Review: Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Film: Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (Unrated Version)
Starring: John Cho and Kal Penn
Studio: New Line Cinema
Originally Released: April 25, 2008
Watched: September 7, 2008 via Netflix
Ebert Rating: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 54%
My Netflix Rating: *** (Liked It)
Wikipedia Entry

Synopsis

Picking up where the first film left off, Asian stoners Harold and Kumar hop a flight to Amsterdam in pursuit of Harold’s dream gal Maria. Being the moronic stoners they are, they run afoul of TSA and Homeland Security as they light up their bong in flight with the passengers and air marshals mistaking it for a “bomb.” Xenophopic ethnic profiling makes our boys Public Enemy #1 as they spend the rest of film running from the G-men. In midst of avoiding a second stint in Guantanamo Bay they run through the Deep South encountering in-bred rednecks, the K.K.K., more hot chicks, Southern brothels, Doogie Howser (???) and G.W. himself (???). In the secondary plot which compliments the first film, Kumar laments his long-lost love.

Thoughts

Ooookay. Well, one great thing about Netflix and the quick turnaround between first-run, second-run and DVD releases is that you can definitely catch films cheaper through DVD as opposed to paying (the ever ridiculously rising) full prices at the mega-plex.

“Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” imho, is a step down from the first film. The situations and gags are on par with the first film and others of the genre like “Dude Where’s My Car” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” You still have those LMAO momets. The problem with the film though is that some parts of the story do come across as a tad bit insulting and disturbing. A large portion of the film lampoons the ridiculous turn America’s taken since 9/11 with the Patriot Act and xenophobia against Middle-Easterners, Indians who LOOK LIKE Middle-Easterners, Mexicans and Koreans, etc, etc. While running from Homeland Security and facing off against the KKK the film not so subtlely transcends from “Stoner Comedy” to “Social Statement” which probably isn’t what most people are checking this film out for as these films typically serve as an “Escape” from the ridiculousness of the world we live in as opposed to a stark reminder of just how screwed up things really are. Probably the strongest statements regarding how bad we’ve gotten are the zealousness of the Homeland Security agent who relentlessly pursues Harold and Kumar. That probably leaves the worst taste in my mouth from the film as it wasn’t funny at all and it probably hits a bit too close to home for some who’ve probably experienced things first hand.

On the plus side, we still have hot chicks who flash and the gags are on par with the first film. Nothing new to the genre but still good for a laugh.

DVD Features

Being rented from Netflix I only rented Disc One which basically just had the feature itself. I didn’t bother renting the second disc with the special features and thus can’t comment but I suspect it’s chalked full of everything you’d expect and is worth a watch if you’re a total film or Harold and Kumar freak.

The Verdict

Is this film worth a watch? Sure. Is the DVD worth purchasing? That’s up to you to decide. My inclination would say probably not as the film offers nothing new or fresh. If you’re a big fan of Harold and Kumar maybe it may be worth your time and dollar to purchase. For the rest of us the Netflix rental will probably suffice.

Verdict: Flip a coin. Not must see material but not a total waste of time either.

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