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"Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay"

Directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg.
Written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg.
Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Rob Corddry and Neil Patrick Harris.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  4/27/08


Full disclosure--I thought that "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" was only okay, but that's because at times, its sight gags, toilet humor and wall-to-wall racism were really funny, and at other times, they COMPLETELY miss the mark on the jokes.  But, even I would admit that Neil Patrick Harris was pretty funny in the first film, and the bag of weed dream sequence was the hardest I laughed at anything in 2004.

The idea to make a sequel for this film seems a little odd, since the first film has its place firmly set in pop culture lore and no one was clamoring for another run.  A better statement on where this is: even now, four years later, neither of the first film's main leads are mainstream stars yet, and they don't appear quite ready for the big time...if the first film was so good, why didn't John Cho or Kal Penn do more than appear as bit actors on already-popular TV shows and small-bit movies?

"Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay" can best be described as a road picture (much like the last film, except it takes the duo from Jersey to prison to Florida to Texas) with even more blatantly wrong racist comedy and sex/toilet jokes than the last film.  Our men Harold (Cho) and Kumar (Penn) are back, and as this is supposed to take place literally right after the end of the first film, things haven't changed a bit.  In trying to outrace feds who are convinced that the twosome are terrorists following some illegal weed activity on a flight to Amsterdam, Kumar is able to also track down his former girlfriend (Danneel Harris, an awful first name if ever there was one) and try to wiggle his way back into her life after they broke up two years ago.

And of course, we get a random Neil Patrick Harris sighting.

This sequel is better than I thought it would be, a sentiment shared by your friend and mine, MISTER Gordon Stokes.  There are a surprisingly high number of barrel laughs (if wrong black, Jew, Indian and Asian jokes are your thing) and nasty-but-I'm-laughing sex jokes, and trust me, someone you know will randomly say the phrase "cock-meat sandwich" sometime soon...just trust me, it's funny.  The first hour of "Guantanamo Bay" is good stuff, occasionally hilarious, but generally amusing throughout.  Cho and Penn still have the same great chemistry they had in the first film, and their rollicking adventure stays fresh, at least early on.

But, NPH's sighting and the film's final 20 minutes are a real letdown; some of this is that Harris's part is not as strong this go-round, but the inevitable romantic angle is not played well in this film, and then we get a silly final ten minutes that will make fans of the first film openly gag with disapproval.  Luckily, the first half carryover is strong enough to make you forget that end business when you leave the theater, and for good reason--you get the other types of humor mentioned above, plus random bits on "bottomless" parties, dumb feds, George W. Bush, in-bred caged one-eyed children, and life as a whore.

In other words, spend $7 to see this one rainy afternoon, if you can stomach nasty afro-pubic hair jokes.  No, I'm not kidding.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09