Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
A Very Nasty Taste Test

Over-the-top, disgusting bathroom and sexual humor, excessive dependence on pot and beer to face any situation life throws at them, very limited vocabularies with f*** nearly every other word, and constant encounters with naked or near naked people (almost exclusively women)… meet Harold and Kumar, the stoner duo of Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

In this sequel to Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, the two are off to Amsterdam to reunite Harold with the woman of his dreams. Unfortunately, Kumar follows Harold to the restroom in flight and drags out his new revolutionary smokeless bong, which looks like a bomb to another passenger who sees it when Harold leaves the toilet screaming that Kumar is an idiot. The boys end up tackled by sky marshals, turned over to the FBI and Homeland Security—who promptly declares that the North Koreans and al Qaeda (Kumar is Indian, not Middle Eastern) have joined forces, and delivers them to Guantanamo Bay to be detained along with other terrorist prisoners. A fortuitous escape begins the real adventures as Harold and Kumar try to get back to the United States and get their lives straightened out.

Kal Penn as Kumar in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo BayLots of potential for laughs here, but the air goes out of the tires quickly when John Cho and Kal Penn (as Harold and Kumar) are upstaged by the constant parade of vaginas, breasts, and all-out spearing of every kind of sexual, political, racial, and religious discrimination that could be thought of by the “creative” team of Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg—who, by the way, only have these two Harold and Kumar movies to their credit.

The MPAA really missed the boat when rating this movie; and while I have disagreed with them in the past, usually I can see why they have arrived at their conclusion. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is rated R for “strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language and drug use.” It could be argued that after reading their reasons for the rating, I should have been prepared to be shocked or titillated. However, the MPAA has taught us over the years that the R usually means a few bare backsides and a breast or two… and more ear-pricking swearing than we are used to using or hearing in our daily lives.

Take for instance, Knocked Up. Not a very pleasing title, and quite a lot of bathroom humor and young men in their twenties who act two—but a well-written story (for adults) about relationships and how funny many aspects of male/female interaction can be. When I reviewed Knocked Up, I cautioned that it was not a movie for children or really anyone under twenty who hadn’t had the experience of really working through a relationship with another person. There were scenes and dialogue that I found offensive, but overall the movie was a wonderful and funny adult comedy. Escape From Guantanamo Bay loses its humor when it stoops to outright vulgarity.

If you saw the documentary This Movie Is Not Yet Rated, you will be as stumped as I am as to how the group of people that make up the MPAA allowed Guantanamo Bay to go out without an NC-17. Were the grandmothers and garden ladies absent that day, or just shouted down by the rest of the group? Harold and Kumar lose their laugh factors when upstaged by full-on nude crotch shots and people being urinated on. Anywhere else this is usually labeled pornography. No child under seventeen, accompanied or not, should be subjected to this movie—and from the comments of many of the adults walking out on the screening (with me among them), neither should the grown ups. And guys, be careful. If you think this would make a good date picture, make it a date with the boys. The women were just not laughing.

I labor under no misconceptions. Harold and Kumar will probably kill at the box office; and sadly, that is a testament to the state of our culture today.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Kathy attempted to make it through a promotional screening of Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.