The weed movie is a pretty straightforward species. In terms of overall viewing experiences, this ganja genre is one of the most self-aware of its audience’s mindset: it assumes that each member of the audience gets stoned with their friends before heading to the theater to watch fictional characters getting stoned with their friends. These films depend on instant audience identification with the protagonists. Each stoned audience member goes along on a crazy adventure with these characters while constantly reinforcing the fact that they are totally blazed. In fact, this reinforcement is more than half the fun of being high at the movies in the first place.
This reinforcement is a powerful cinematic ideal-powerful enough to cause high school and college-aged males to shuffle giggling into theaters, forget about dropping fifteen bucks on a large order of nachos, and witness their cinematic doppelgangers do silly shit.
An effective weed film, therefore, must center around and combine the perfect amounts of the following weed-fueled male desires: little complexity, plenty of absurdity, full-frontal female nudity, fast food and Neil Patrick Harris (not necessarily in a sexual way). “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle” balanced this formula almost perfectly; its sequel, “Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” is not nearly as effective in juggling these various conventions. It stands alone well enough as a forgettable romp through some very unlikely locales, but it pales in comparison to the cohesive and inventive style of its predecessor.
“H&K: G-Bay” begins with a montage of romantic moments that remind the viewer of Maria, the love interest of Harold (John Cho) from the first film. The title characters planned to fly to Amsterdam and find said love interest after enjoying the life-altering goodness of White Castle sliders at the conclusion of their first quest. The second movie picks up at this point before veering wholly and inexplicably off-course. After Kumar (Kal Penn) produces a “smokeless” bong on the airplane, the passengers assume that he is a terrorist. There happens to be three air marshals on the plane, and both guys get busted.
This totally ridiculous act lands both Kumar and Harold in Guantanamo Bay, setting off a series of events that take the boys to glamorous locations like Miami and really unattractive ones like Alabama and Texas. Why might the filmmakers have chosen to lead their characters through the South instead of across Europe? One could argue that this sort of unexpected digression is in perfect keeping with the unconventional aspect of the weed film-others might argue that it is just stupid. Mainly, the filmmakers needed to keep their characters in a setting ripe with familiar stereotypes; however, the other goal may have been to make, as Kumar eloquently states, a “Euro Trip” that doesn’t suck. The boys do eventually make it to Amsterdam, but their arrival is a shameless afterthought to close up the gaping plot hole presented at the beginning of the film.
Then again, who cares about plot holes? Any viewer who comes into this film expecting narrative continuity is in the wrong theater, and this review is already boring and convoluted enough. In the spirit of instant gratification, let’s get straight to the problems and positives.
Main problems: 1) creation of an uninteresting and unbelievable love interest for Kumar that dominates the main plot and is explained in unnecessary flashbacks, 2) lots of heavy-handed political jokes that riff on the spirit of the first movie without being nearly as funny, 3) Rob Corddry was not nearly as funny as he could be, and 4) not enough scenes of Neil Patrick Harris doing blow off of hookers.
Positives: 1) the giant bag of weed makes another appearance in one of Kumar’s fantasies, 2) the playful flipping of racial stereotypes does still warrant a few laughs, 3) the boys smoke weed with George W. Bush, and 4) Neil Patrick Harris rides a unicorn up a rainbow!
If you want to go see this movie in the theater, enter very inebriated and with as few expectations as possible. To save a little money, wait until it comes out on DVD. Then pack the bowl, toke and eat three White Castle sliders. Repeat this process until you are able to take a ride on your own rainbow unicorn.