The only thing more certain in this world than an annual Mariah Carey Christmas album re-release? That would be the holiday itself — and though it doesn’t actually arrive until December 25th, the celebration always begins a few weeks shy of Thanksgiving — just as corporate America intended. So here we are, barely a week after Halloween, and the Yuletide fervor has already hit. Need proof? Look no further than your local movie spot — I guarantee ”A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas” is already playing. I recently sat down with the movie’s stars, John Cho, Kal Penn and Neil Patrick Harris, and asked them why theirs is the greatest Christmas movie of all time.
“It’s the greatest Christmas movie of all time because that morbidly obese white man home invader finally gets his due!” joked John Cho, referring to the moment in the film when Santa is accidentally shot in the face.
Cho’s co-star Kal Penn offered a more thoughtful response, saying, “What I love about this movie is that we get away with so much bizarre, graphic, sometimes vulgar humor and still retain the true Christmas spirit of friendship and family and love and Santa Claus. I love that we got to do those things in one movie.”
These two sentiments, while vaguely conflicting, couldn’t be more representative of what the movie is all about. Ridiculous and heartfelt all at the same time — and that’s why I loved it. It’s what we’ve come to expect from the wildly successful Harold and Kumar franchise, which has basically done for John Cho and Kal Penn what ”Twilight” has done for Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Cho has silently become one of the biggest actors in Hollywood, with starring roles in three major franchises: ”Star Trek”, ”Harold and Kumar” and ”American Pie” (look out for Cho in ”American Reunion” next year). But Cho isn’t the only one working crazy hours these days — Kal Penn is equally busy. When he’s not playing a stoner on-screen, Penn has been putting in time not at White Castle, but at the White House, where he worked as the Associate Director of Public Engagement up until recently. In short, Kumar got to kick it with the President.
“I remember speaking to my guidance counselor senior year of high school, and I told her, ‘I want to go to college and want to study film and I also want to work in public service.’ She said, ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too.’ Very cranky. I’m like, ‘Well thats not great advice to give to a 17 year old!’ What I love about making frivolous, fun movies like this is working one part of my brain, and then being serious and doing something more cerebral in the other part. I like that they are separate worlds, and I really feel blessed that I get to work in both,” Penn said.
Another ”Harold and Kumar” regular who has seen his career skyrocket is Neil Patrick Harris, who steals this movie, somehow managing to make you love him… and his on-screen drug addiction. Patrick Harris’ real-life partner David Burtka also appears in the film, in a cameo which was the star’s own idea.
“It was kind of my pitch to have him be my dealer because I thought it was funny. Actually the studio was kind of weirded out by that, but they agreed in the end and I think it was a good call.”
The first ”Harold and Kumar” film brought Patrick Harris back from Doogie Howser-obscurity and then some. Now he has such a star presence, his co-stars joke about being able to sense him coming before he arrives.
“You sense it as the plane approaches the airport nearest to where you’re shooting,” jokes Penn. “You just know there’s something in the air, that Neil is on his way.”
“Yeah,” adds Cho. “Birds flock away, the sky opens up…”
Patrick Harris’ current star status is well-deserved — he’s played many iconic characters, including ”Harold and Kumar”’s NPH, Barney from the hit CBS show ”How I Met Your Mother” and, of course, Doogie. He’s also managed to keep his personal life separate from his various on-screen personas, and even gets a kick out of the glaring disparities between the two.
“I find it kind of amazingly funny that people know I’m like in a relationship with a guy and we have two kids, and yet super crazy frat guys are like, [in his best meat head voice] ‘Barney Stinson, Harold and Kumar dude!’ I like that dynamic.”
”A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas” is in theaters now.
– Hyla (@Hyla)