Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Movie Poster Image
Stoner social satire is rude, crude, and funny.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 102 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 22 reviews

A lot or a little?

Parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Extensive discussion of racism, stereotypes, and government policy; a characteer literally uses the Bill of Rights as toilet paper. Some government officials are seen as idiotic, petty fascists (with counterpoint from smarter, more reasonable government officials). Harold and Kumar (and their parents) are subjected to racist insults. Harold and Kumar stumble across a Ku Klux Klan meeting. A government agent taunts ethnic and religious groups with stereotypical objects of desire (grape soda for an African-American character; a bag of small change for two Jewish characters) in an effort to get them to talk; this, however, doesn't work and is depicted as the act of an idiot. From one woman's point of view, Kumar is seen in the beard and robes of a stereotypical Islamic fundamentalist (which, by turn, implies that she believes he's a terrorist). An actor depicting the president is seen drinking and doing drugs. A fair amount of toilet humor. On the plus side, the film's cast is diverse, and Harold and Kumar have a strong friendship.

Violence

Plenty, but mostly intended for comic effect. Fatal electrocution by an electric fence; characters are held at gunpoint; fistfights and scuffles (including knees to the groin); one supporting character is shot with a shotgun, twice; a deer is shot, with blood spatter and a knife blow to finish the job; a prostitute is literally branded. Mace is used.

Sex

Topless and bottomless nudity, both rear and front, and both male and female; same-sex make-out sessions for comedic effect; prisoners are forced to provide guards with oral sex; characters visit a brothel; simulated masturbation and ejaculation; references to incest; discussion of sexual techniques and positions; characters kiss; fantasy sequence includes visions of a "threesome" between a man, a woman, and a huge anthropomorphic (and anatomically correct) bag of marijuana.

Language

Constant, inventive vulgar language, including "f--k," "motherf---er," "s--t," "dick," "p---y," "a--holes," "douchebag," "boner," "whore," "c--k," and several racial epithets (both in dialogue and soundtrack lyrics).

Consumerism

A few brands are mentioned -- TiVo, Nokia, Coors Light, Mustang, Zoloft.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Constant references to "getting high" and "smoking weed," with extensive on-screen marijuana use. Also lots of discussion of marijuana paraphernalia and the war on drugs. One character's marijuana is laced with cocaine; a character takes psychedelic mushrooms while driving. Characters also drink beer and hard liquor (one drinks while driving). One character disapproves of another's marijuana use to counter stress, suggesting Zoloft as an alternative.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that plenty of teens will want to see this marijuana-centric sequel, which goes out of its way to push buttons -- and that the filmmakers don't really worry about when to say when. Expect constant marijuana use, strong language (including "f--k," "p---y," and many more), broadly comic violence, and sexual content -- including both male and female nudity (topless and bottomless). That said, behind all the joking and the toking, there are some nice messages about real friendship, as well as some interesting observations about the racial and ethnic profiling that's taken place since 9-11 and the dangers of excessive law enforcement in the name of safety.

User Reviews

Adult Written byTrevorsHeartburn October 16, 2015

Wasn't Crunk Enough the First Time

Although Harold and Kumar does provide a good sense of family fun, it does lack the comradery of the homebound classic American Pie. I would personally suggest...
Adult Written by4Spice October 24, 2009

very funny teens and adults only

very funny truth os it has some nudity 16 and over or mature 15
Kid, 9 years old October 24, 2009

NOT FOR KIDS !!!

I watched this in my room. It was the unrated extended(I could of watched rated but I wanted extended). They say the F word at least 150 times (in the unrated)....
Teen, 14 years old Written bysweetie1025 January 25, 2010

This is not a good movie, too much nudity

I didn't watch this movie all the way through, but this is not an appropriate movie for anyone. There is a lot of nudity, if you want to watch a Harold and...

What's the story?

After their successful search for snacks in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Kumar (Kal Penn) and Harold (John Cho) plan a trip to Amsterdam to follow Harold's crush, Maria (Paula Garces), and enjoy marijuana in a legal setting. But when Kumar's bong is mistaken for a bomb on the plane, the two wind up taking a very different trip to a very different destination -- Guantanamo Bay. Once they escape, they must make it to Texas, clear their names, stop Kumar's long-lost love from marrying the wrong man, survive the wild partying of rogue actor Neil Patrick Harris (as himself), and get back to New Jersey safely so they can make it to Amsterdam and reunite Harold and Maria. In short, it's kind of like The Odyssey, only with weed smoking, toilet humor, and gratuitous nudity.

Is it any good?

HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY is an acceptable follow-up to the first film. The jokes aren't quite as consistent as in the original, but Penn and Cho still make for a charming, easy-to-watch odd couple with great timing and real warmth between them. They even wind up making a side trip to Crawford, Tex., where they meet President Bush (played by professional Bush imitator James Adomian), who's depicted as a good guy who likes to unwind with a little weed; when Kumar notes that he doesn't quite trust the government after all he's been through, the president offers: "You don't have to believe in your government to be a good citizen; you just have to believe in your country."

Of course, this pearl of wisdom is spoken through a cloud of exhaled marijuana smoke, but still. And while Harold and Kumar take many side trips in their journey back to safety -- dodging blind justice as personified by Rob Corddry's idiotic special agent as they go -- they're motivated by more than just their affection for weed and the hunt for a good time; they truly care about each other, and they believe in real love. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay doesn't have the divinely inspired vulgarity of, say, Blazing Saddles, but it throws out so many jokes so fast, with such gleeful dimwit glee, that it's hard to not find something amusing in it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about drugs and drug use. Do you think the movie is an accurate depiction of social attitudes about marijuana? Why or why not? Does it address any of the consequences of drug use? As a comedy, is it expected to? Families can also discuss the racial and ethnic profiling that Harold and Kumar are subjected to. Do you think that happens in everyday life? How does the media undermine and/or reinforce those kinds of assumptions and stereotypes?

Movie details

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