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New Line Home Cinema presents
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (Unrated Two-Disc Special Edition) (2008)

"This is exactly like Eurotrip only it's not gonna suck."
- Kumar Patel (Kal Penn)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: July 29, 2008

Stars: John Cho, Kal Penn, Rob Corddry, Roger Bart, Neil Patrick Harris
Other Stars: Danneel Harris, Paula Garces, Beverly D'Angelo, Ed Helms
Director: on Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

Manufacturer: Laser Pacific
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexuality, language, rude humor, drug use, racism, some violence)
Run Time: 01h:47m:42
Release Date: July 29, 2008
UPC: 794043123115
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+AB A-

DVD Review

The 2004 comedy Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle was something of a revelation: a stoner comedy that manages to be hilarious through sheer inventiveness, even if you're 100% sober. The combination of drug, sex and scatology with bizarre leaps from out of left field has won the movie quite a few fans on DVD, and a sequel was probably inevitable. But this is a rare sequel that improves on the original in some respects by adding a sharp political satire while keeping the endearingly stupid characters from the original.

The story takes up the next morning after the last picture's conclusion, as uptight banker Harold Lee (John Cho) and his hedonistic friend Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) plan to board a plane to Amsterdam, weed capital of the world, with Harold hoping to be able to track down Maria (Paula Garces) there, even though he doesn't know her last name. But things almost immediately go awry when Kumar smuggles his own dope on board the airplane in order to try out his new invention: the smokeless bong. Soon he and Harold are mistaken for terrorists and Homeland Security functionary Ron Fox (Rob Corddry) is determined to make an example of them by taking away their rights and sending them to Gitmo. As sexual humiliation looms in the Cuban prison, Harold and Kumar find an opportunity for escape and embark on a journey across the American south to try to clear their names, and incidentally disrupt the wedding of Kumar's ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Harris). And of course, Neil Patrick Harris is back as a deus ex machina of the strangest sort.

Despite the title, the escape itself is only an incidental episode. The real meat is following the fugitives as they run into a series of bizarre characters, from a Ku Klux Klan kegger to an inbred couple with their cyclopean son hidden in the cellar. The social satire works particularly well because not a lot is made of the main characters' ethnicities; the movie uses them to reflect the prejudices and foibles of both the denizens of Dixie and the governmental functionaries who are eager to make a name for themselves and get into the papers, regardless of what rights their victims might have. One of the most engaging episodes features an appearance by George W. Bush (James Adomian) that both makes use of rumors about his past and reinterprets them in creative ways to make a portrait of the President that is unforgettable.

Cho and Penn work exceedingly well together, with timing that ranks among the very best comics. Their patter and Odd Couple-like frustrations with each other constantly inspire laughs, which almost makes the external hilarities superfluous. But they're supported by an excellent cast, starting with Corddry and Robert Bart as his long-suffering associate who actually cares about such things as Constitutional rights and the possibility that an accusation is not the equivalent of proof. Beverly D'Angelo is fun in a small role as a brothel madam, and Ed Helms is downright hilarious as the most incompetent Korean translator ever.

Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg wrote the original Harold and Kumar, and they take the directorial helm for the first time here. Nevertheless, they show a good knack for timing and staging for effect. They are in the vein of the Zucker brothers, throwing a multitude of gags and situations at the viewer, regardless of what sticks. Plenty of scenes are memorably staged, such as the Klan rally and the surprise Harold gets as he pets a faun. This sequel works and is hilarious from beginning to end, making it a winner of a comedy.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture offers plenty of detail and texture, while there are no signs of DNR or edge enhancement. The colors are frequently brilliant and there is plenty of deep black level and shadow detail. The picture looks near-HD throughout and will not disappoint.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
EX
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both 5.1 EX and stereo surround tracks are included. There's some reasonably clear directionality in places, but the surround activity is mostly limited to the background music. It's quite clear and without any significant issues.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Semi-Pro, Run Fatboy Run, Lost Boys: The Tribe
1 TV Spots/Teasers
27 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1) writer/directors Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossburg, John Cho, Kal Penn; 2) writer/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, Harold Lee and James Adomian
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Bush PSA
  2. Bonus Digital Copy
  3. Change the Movie Feature
Extras Review: New Line packs the set with extras, which fans of the movie will certainly enjoy. Disc 1 contains a pair of commentaries, one featuring the principal stars, and the second with the real "Harold Lee" and the actor who plays George W. Bush, James Adomian, who is in character as Bush and other notables. The writers and directors are also on hand on both tracks, making for a lttle duplication but not too much. There's plenty of misinformation presented in the commentaries in the name of humor, so be sure to take everything with large grains of salt. The commentaries aren't as funny as the feature, but there's still plenty worth sitting through the movie several times. There's also a fun branching feature that permits the viewer to change the movie at various decision points, while you're coaxed about the selections by Cho and Penn in character. You can even make the pair wind up in Amsterdam uneventfully, though it's a much shorter movie.

Disc 2 features the documentary The World of Harold and Kumar (21m:34s), which is a step above the standard EPK interview material. Adomian recreates his Bush performance in a public service announcement promoting the movie. A whopping 27 deleted scenes and outtakes provide even more laughs, and there are a number of variants that make it clear how much improv there was on set. A pair of theatrical trailers includes a red-band R trailer as well as a teaser. Finally, for those who like to download their movies, the second disc includes a bonus digital copy.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Go beyond the fact it's a stoner comedy and not only that, but a sequel to a stoner comedy. The second Harold and Kumar movie is even funnier than the original, with plenty of rude humor and political satire. The transfer is excellent and there are tons of extras to boot.

 


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