It’s hard to imagine that just anything could have caused actor Kal Penn to leave his very-serious-sounding gig as associate director in President Obama’s Office of Public Engagement. After all, Penn had proven his political backbone when he chose the White House over House. But it’s not every day one gets to pump shotgun shells into Santa Claus and hotbox a baby — and so when the script for A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas showed up in Penn’s .gov e-mail account, it was sayonara Public Engagement, hello again, public endangerment.
In the first trailer for the third film in the series of sly, stoner tomfoolery it appears that filmmakers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg — the Coen Brothers of meathead munchie cinema — have chucked out narrative altogether in lieu of stupidly creative (and creatively stupid) comic riffing. Our titular heroes appear a bit older but certainly no wiser as they own at beer pong, make fun of (and celebrate) the glories of 3D, get so high they claymate themselves (been there done that!) and get their poles stuck to a frozen pole. As ever, the greater LOLs are provided by the winking Neil Patrick Harris, who, as the Axe Body Spray version of himself, smirks at Jesus and uses his professed gayness to sweet-talk a Rockette out of her bra. It all seems like good, filthy fun — and certainly a lot merrier than the mood in the West Wing right now. Still, we can’t help but be a bit disappointed: An earlier draft of the script we were privy to featured NPH taking amorous advantage of a certain perky daytime talk-show host. We’ll just have to maintain Hope & Faith that the movie’s best scene survived her absence.
Andy Greenwald is an author and screenwriter in New York. He covers pop culture for Grantland.
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