The great ‘Escape’

By Gus Bode

‘Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay’

Rated R

Starring: John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris

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Directed by John Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg

Run time: 102 minutes

4.5 out of 5 stars

Four years after they ventured to White Castle, Harold and Kumar have returned. Luckily for everyone who loved them the first time around, not much has changed. For everyone else, don’t bother going.

Shockingly, “Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay” is just as good as its predecessor. It has big laughs, cheap shots, political commentary and even some surprising sweetness as it progresses. Comedies don’t come much better than this one.

Picking up mere minutes after the first film ended, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are getting ready to go to Amsterdam to meet Harold’s love, Maria. After an awkward encounter with Kumar’s old college girlfriend and her fianc’eacute;, they get on the plane and after a series of misunderstandings, are pegged as terrorists and sent to Guantanamo Bay.

It wouldn’t be much of a movie if they spent the whole time there, so they quickly escape, head for Miami, and once again go on a wild road trip, meeting the Ku Klux Klan, inbred Southerners and, of course, Neil Patrick Harris.

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The misadventures pile up on each other, as do the jokes, and it’s surprising that almost all of them work, from the gross-out jokes to the stoner humor to the clueless FBI agent played by Rob Corddry to the scenes that play on the inherent racism and stupidity of Americans.

The movie makes you think it’s going to go to one place and then does a U-turn to provide an even bigger laugh, especially apparent in a scene involving a can of grape soda. Not to mention the film makes numerous references to the original film that are fall down funny.

The movie also offers some wonderful commentary on our government and suggests that perhaps our president isn’t as much of a Nazi as everyone thinks he is. Maybe this is how Hollywood should approach films about Iraq: with a healthy dose of laughs and a bit of satire. As the film says, you don’t have to love the government – you just have to love the country.

Aside from the comedic duo at its helm, the film features numerous other comedic moments from a variety of performers, including Ed Helms, Missy Pyle and, since it can’t be mentioned enough, Harris, who once again steals the movie away for 15 minutes of sheer brilliance. Watching him ride a unicorn is beautiful.

The reason the film works so well is because Harold and Kumar are the best hetero life partners since Jay and Silent Bob. They bicker, fight and have realistic scuffles as friends with different personalities, but their love of weed and their deep seeded love for each other shines through on screen. They’re the kind of guys you want to hang out with.

When the film moves toward their love lives as it progresses, and their friendship threatens to break up, the audience feels for them and hopes everything turns out all right. There’s a scene toward the end that is sweeter and funnier than anything “Sarah Marshall” produced, and that’s saying something.

“HAKEFGB” might be the funniest film so far this year, and will certainly provide laughs for many years to come. One hopes another adventure is soon in the future for these two guys.

Wes Lawson can be reached at 536-331 ext. 275 or [email protected]

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