For all those rooting for this pre-summer comedy sequel to be the answer to the 2007 dramas that failed to tap into the conscience of post-9/11 America (instead, they just preened their own personal biases...), you're gonna have to wait a bit longer to celebrate.
Not that Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay is a total loss. In its best moments, the film cuts through the juvenile humor and achieves a bit of South Park-esque moral clarity. While smoking pot with "President Bush" after 90 minutes of cross-country contretemps, our president says to H & K, "You don't need to trust your government, you just have to love your country". It's a sentiment that most Americans can agree on at the end of a red-faced, hair-pulling, name-calling political argument, and it's a timely semi-serious pause in a film filled with goofs.
But back to that juvenile humor...
If you read this blog - even occasionally - you'll know I appreciate the stuff, but the gross-out gags in H & K 2 feel dated and scatter shot in quality. This is likely the result of H & K 1 director, Danny Leiner, not coming back for round two (co-writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg do double-duty in the sequel, directing as well). Kumar blowing a load in his face, having explosive diarrhea, and getting peed on, are surefire ways of getting laughs, but when you see Eddie Kaye Thomas on screen (reprising the role of Rosenberg), you're reminded of how "American Pie" this is,... and then reminded again that American Pie was nine years ago.
What was charming about Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle was its blend of two buddies looking out for each other as they encounter cultural and social stereotypes on their way to feast on some traditional American fast food. Actors John Cho and Kal Penn expressed twentysomething insecurities and self-revelations with natural conviction, but in ...Guantanamo Bay - a film that takes place the morning after ...White Castle - the young men already feel like jaded thirtysomethings (maybe it's got something to do with Cho being 36... 36!!!... and Penn, 31). Outside of the female conquest cliche, there are no interpersonal discovery drives and denouements.
Sadly, Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay simply succumbs to being a sequel in all of a movie franchise's terribly typical ways.