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Harold and Kumar go to Gitmo 

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bayis the best comedy in theatres right now. It has the most wit and, in its East Indian and Korean title characters (Kal Penn and Jon Cho), the most endearing protagonists.

The writers of 2004's Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, take on directing duties for the second stoner adventure, never taking enough risks to obtain a visual style. Though the first movie bombed theatrically, its huge-hit status on DVD adds pressure for its makers to deliver. The result is a sequel that understands how to play the game, but is now playing out of duty---the equivalent of the adequate Wayne's World 2to the fresh Wayne's World. The laughs are here, but in buying into the lustre that Harold and Kumaris now a franchise, the endearing innocence is lost.

When the duo last went in pursuit of late-night fast food, the simplicity of that all-American desire was what made the racist adversity they encountered subvert formula. This time their trek lacks that genius drive. They're trying to clear their names and,when they have time, find their dream girls. Harold and Kumar's encounters with a KKK rally and their false imprisonment for an attempted hijacking hit obvious notes. It's a noble effort to have the heroes' faith in American virtue contested by the individualattitudes that ruin the country's rep. A scene where it's flipped on Harold and Kumar fleeing from black men who only want to help them change a tire is the movie's brightest satire.

But too little of it keeps the audience and heroes in step and in surprise. Byelevating the gross-out quota, the film missteps in interpreting what made the White Castle adventure fun. More jaded, the money shot and pubic mohawks displayed this time are attention-baiting posing as inspiration. The biggest laugh comes at the end from George W. Bush's explanation of why he's no more of a "hypocriticizer" than Kumar. Only times like these, when it isn't trying to top itself, does it reach the first film's punk radiance.


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