“Entertainment Weekly” confirmed recently that actor Kal Penn is leaving his post with the Obama Administration as associate director of public engagement (whatever that is; who wouldn’t want to leave that for a film career?) to resume his acting career. While this isn’t exactly joy-inducing news in and of itself, Penn’s first project back is reason for guarded optimism. That first project is “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas.”
The first outing for this new-age “Odd Couple” — 2004’s “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” — was such a trippy, creative, off-the-wall, slapstick good time, that I’m always excited to hear they’re headed back to the multiplex. Unfortunately, 2008’s “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” was a huge disappointment, hence my guardedness. “Guantanamo” lacked the creativity and heart of the original and, for me, epitomized “phone-it-in” filmmaking. It was a paint-by-numbers affair that felt like a badly-done carbon copy of the original.
I know what this franchise is capable of, though, and will certainly be in line to see “Christmas.” Newcomer Todd Strauss-Schulson is being brought in to direct and that further fuels my optimism. I’m not familiar with Strauss-Schulson’s work, but, considering the autopilot feel of “Guantanamo,” new blood in the director’s chair might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Although there’s no official word on the matter, a new director frequently signals new writers as well, and that’s likely a good thing too. Warranted or no, then, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Penn) have me already looking forward to the Holidays.
Naughty or nice, “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas” will deck multiplexes everywhere in December 2010.
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