If you could get a contact high from imaginary marijuana smoke, you'd get it from "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas." Not only do clouds of pot smoke seemingly waft into the theater, but eggs splat on viewers, glass shards soar their way and glitter shoots out of Neil Patrick Harris' cane (not a euphemism, although one bodily fluid does make it into 3-D).
Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are perhaps the perfect characters for a 3-D comedy. The film is self-aware enough to make not only 3-D jokes, but slip in an aside about star Kal Penn's recent White House job. And as you'd expect, the pop culture references fly fast and furious, with asides about Ryan Gosling in "The Notebook," whether yogurt expires, Generation Z and more. In a spoof of the most famous scene in "A Christmas Story," Harold gets something a little lower than his tongue stuck to a frozen pole.
In their Christmas adventure, the comic friends get back to the easygoing rapport that earned them so many fans after 2004's "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle." They're older, but not really grown-ups, and when the film begins, not even friends. Kumar is living in his pit of an apartment and has just learned his girlfriend is pregnant. Harold is happily married and living in a gorgeous suburban house, where his wife has babies on her mind as well. Both have new loser best friends who serve to make the true BFFs jealous and remind us how great the H-and-K chemistry is by contrast.Video: John Cho, Kal Penn talk 'Harold & Kumar' (on this page)
Of course the stoner buddies have to get back together, and the excuse isn't a White Castle craving this time, but the disaster that unfolds when they burn down Harold's Christmas tree and must get another before his menacing father-in-law (Danny Trejo, in a bit of inspired casting) finds out. The specifics of how they do this (Ukranian mobsters! An accidentally drugged baby! A waffle-making robot!) doesn't really matter, but the journey, which includes just the right amount of a very funny Neil Patrick Harris, is fun to take thanks to the duo's likable chemistry.
The one problem with the first "Harold & Kumar" movie (let us not mention the second), was that it occasionally ran a stupid gag into the ground, namely a group of annoying extreme sports hoodlums taunting our heroes. Whenever they were on screen, the plot ground to a halt. There's no such anchor dragging down this movie, and it zooms along like Santa's sleigh, which Harold accidentally shoots out of the sky at one point.
Oscar material? Definitely not. But if you like "Harold & Kumar" and their cheerfully rowdy humor, you'll happily reunite with the pals for this holiday. Pass the sliders.
Are you a fan of Harold and Kumar, and will you see this movie? Tell us on Facebook.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is TODAY.com's movies editor.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints