(We're re-posting our SXSW review of Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay to coincide with the film's theatrical release this weekend.)
"Is it as good as the first one?" That's the question I've been asked most since watching Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay last night. Short answer: Yes ... and no. The HIGHly-anticipated sequel to 2004's Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle comes just how you'd expect it: raunchy, wild, disgusting and completely absurd. This isn't -- and has never been -- a real-life comedy (all that went out the window after the boys rode a cheetah in the first installment); it's a fantasy/comedy, the kind you'd dream up while stoned out of your mind on a Saturday night. I tend to think that's how writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg came up with this idea in the first place.
The Harold and Kumar films have always been about three things: drugs, sex and racial differences. Like with any sequel, all three of those are upped significantly. Instead of traveling across the state of New Jersey, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are now traveling across the United States. The stakes are also higher; this time, the boys are mistaken for terrorists while on a plane heading for Amsterdam after Kumar rigs up a bong that holds in the smoke -- a bong that looks and sounds like "bomb." After they're taken down to Guantanamo Bay, the first ridiculous homosexual joke plays itself out and the boys manage to escape. But where do they go and how do they clear their name? And, most importantly, will we care ... at all?