Movie Review: Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008)

Synopsis: While on a flight to Amsterdam, a drug-related misunderstanding results in friends Harold and Kumar being arrested as terrorists and sent to the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. They manage to escape after only an hour and find a ride back to the United States. However, now fugitives from the law, their only hope is traveling from Florida to Texas to get help from the influential Colton, the man who is about to marry Kumar's ex-girlfriend, Vanessa.

Who's in it? The movie stars Kal Penn, John Cho, Rob Corddry, Danneel Ackles, Missi Pyle and Beverly D'Angelo.

Review: My wife decided to run some errands yesterday evening, while waiting for our daughter to get done with work. While she was gone, I ended up watching the last few minutes of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and, since this movie came on right after that one, wound up watching it as well. 

My wife insists we've seen this movie before, and I have no reason to doubt her. However, I couldn't remember a thing about this film and, as I watched it, none of the scenes seemed familiar. To be fair though, I don't think this is a very memorable movie.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle was a goofy but still very funny film with a lot of memorable and surprisingly hilarious scenes. This sequel seemed to be trying to build on that but just fell flat in my opinion.

One thing in particular I noticed about this film is it seemed to be a lot raunchier than the previous movie. I'm not saying the first film didn't have those types of scenes too, this one just seemed to be built around them a lot more, finding excuses to show naked women whenever possible. It's not unlike my opinion of the American Pie movies. I thought the first one was clever while the sequels spent a bit too much time on the sex jokes.

I thought even the various cameos fell a bit flat. Christopher Meloni's KKK Grand Wizard performance was too good to be that short while Neil Patrick Harris just seemed to be phoning things in a bit compared to the first movie. And why bother casting someone as well-known as Beverly D'Angelo only to give her a couple minutes of screen time?

I had mixed feelings about Kumar's love story with Vanessa (Ackles). It was a great way to show how he became the guy he was but also seemed a bit forced at times. I kind of feel like it would have had more of an impact had she been a prominent character in the first movie because, by the time we reached a point where I knew enough about her to see why he was obsessed with her, the film was almost over.

The one thing I did find I liked about this movie was the way it focused on racial profiling and stereotypes. Harold (Cho) and Kumar in particular were mistaken for everything from Muslims to Mexicans while it was also used as a plot device in a few other scenes involving other characters. It was one of the few things where I felt like the lack of subtly did work.

Final Opinion: It's a funny movie, at least at times. However, it does lack the magic of the first film and, if my wife is right and I did see it before, I can understand why I quickly forgot everything about it.

My Grade: C


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