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'Harold and Kumar' a familiar 'escape'

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Published: Sun, April 27, 2008 @ 10:46 p.m.
 

There are sequels like “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” and “The Bourne Supremacy” that build upon the original film and turn promising movies into franchises. Other sequels like “Shrek 2” and “American Pie” merely repeat their previous film's formula with a few added characters and a slightly bigger budget.

“Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” is the latter. Its original movie, “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, took the stoner-movie torch from Cheech & Chong, added some wit and a message about stereotypes to it and found cult success on DVD.

Much like the "American Pie" franchise, "Harold and Kumar" wasn't exactly begging for a follow-up. But because Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (“House M.D.”'s Kal Penn) make an strangely charming odd couple, fans wouldn't mind seeing what they've been up to.

And that's what most of the movie feels like — a safe and familiar visit to old friends.

Playing like a cruder version of “Dumb & Dumber,” “Guantanamo Bay” picks up almost exactly where the first film left off with the main characters heading to Amsterdam to smoke pot and for one of them to find his new flame.

While on their flight to the U.K., Kumar, the idiotic slacker to Harold's tidy, well-structured life, decides to light a bong while in the plane's bathroom. Much like everything in the movie, it goes awry as the plane hits turbulence, causing him to be seen by the passengers as a terrorist with a bomb.

Due to their Indian and Korean descent, both are sent to Guantanamo Bay, where they break out before having to give the security guards oral sex (don't ask).

From there, the movie jumps from one ridiculous situation to another even more ridiculous encounter including an incestuous couple and the president himself, George W. Bush.

The film doesn't stray too far from the original. Racist cops are now racist government agents, the goal of obtaining White Castle is now the goal of getting to Amsterdam, kooky rednecks are replaced with even kookier rednecks. Besides having a slightly different moral “message,” this is pretty “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle: Remixed.”

That's not to say you won't laugh. You'll feel incredibly guilty for laughing at most of the film's sophomoric humor, but there are more than a few gut laughs from “Daily Show” alums Rob Corrdry and Ed Helms as, what else, idiotic government agents.

The movie works best when it puts the humor on cruise control, leaving most of it for cheap laughs and some witty cameos. Unfortunately, its final act spoils most of the fun it worked up to with an encounter with one of the worst-looking George W. Bush impersonators as well as a tacked-on message that feels lifted out of a bad South Park episode.

That being said, the movie starts out with a dream sequence being interrupted by the sound of a person pooping. If you're not willing to go along with that, this movie isn't for you.



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