The notorious stoners lock up the laughs in this can't-miss sequel.
"Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay" is one of those rare sequels that don't provide diminishing returns. Building on the multicultural absurdism of 2003's "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," it will appeal to multiple audiences: the young, the hip and the stoned.
What begins as a simple tale of two buddies on a flight to Amsterdam goes wrong when a nervous Nellie passenger imagines that swarthy, all-American dude Kumar Patel is a jihadi, and his high-tech smokeless bong is a bomb. Homeland Security ships him off to Gitmo along with his tightly wound Asian pal Harold Lee ("North Korea and Al-Qaida working together!").
Their hard time lasts all of five minutes before they're on the loose; the film's rambunctious momentum never flags. Their run-in with the law serves mostly as an excuse to put them on the lam, encountering every ethnic type America has to offer and mocking them all.
The script bristles with politically incorrect jokes about Southerners (inbreeders), inner-city blacks (addicted to grape soda), Jews (greedy enough to scoop coins off a table when no one's looking) and WASPS (ignorant to the point of imbecility about other ethnicities). The jokes are well-crafted, lampooning the bigoted assumptions they play to, while still delivering the goods. It's racial profiling on laughing gas.
Kal Penn and John Cho make an agile comedy team, but the real honors go to Rob Corddry as a government hardcase who literally wipes his rear with the Bill of Rights. All the other performers are actors in a comedy; Corddry submerges into his role with an intensity that makes his sputtering wrath all the more ridiculous.
And once again Neil Patrick Harris delivers a bravura performance as a debauched, alternate-universe version of himself. With its intoxicating blend of frat boy humor and sociological satire, "Escape From Guantanamo Bay" is the comedy of the year so far.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186