HAROLD & KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY (D: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg). Runs 102 mins. Opens April 25. Rating: NNN
Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay joins the short list of sequels that are better than their originals. (It's bookended so far by The Bride Of Frankenstein, made in 1935, and Hostel: Part II.)
With two exceptions, everything from the first movie is back, broader and funnier. We've got a road trip, dope smoking, sex and shit jokes, racism jokes, weird hillbillies, mystic horndog Neil Patrick Harris, improbable aerobatics and more.
Writers John Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg directed this one, and they've got a sharper sense of comic timing and more farcical style than Danny Leiner, who did Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.
John Cho (Harold) and Kal Penn (Kumar) are more comically in synch and get to reveal more of their characters, while the supporting cast is just as good. The two differences from the first film are that this time H&K are after romance, not burgers, and they've got an antagonist, Homeland Security buffoon Ron Fox (a brilliant Rob Corddry), who's convinced, after an incident on a plane, that they're terrorists.
Romance and a bad guy make a more conventional movie than a quest for burgers, so this film lacks the first's ramshackle originality, but that's a quality no sequel can have. By way of compensation, it gains a louder political mouth – a fair trade-off. Sit through the end credits: there's a great closing shot.