For John Cho, Harold and Kumar are ‘all about love’

Boys will be boys: John Cho

Boys will be boys: John Cho

To a casual viewer, 2004’s “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” and its 2008 follow-up “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” are about stupidity, bodily fluids, bodily functions, illegal activity and partaking in mind-altering substances.

That’s pretty much the opposite of the true meaning of Christmas.

Yet 39-year-old, Korean-born John Cho — who portrays Harold (aka “Roldy”) in the latest in the series, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” opening Friday — asserts that the movies are really about brotherly love and family bonds.

Since the success of the first films, Cho, a UC Berkeley graduate,  has worked in TV shows and movies, including a plum role as Sulu in the 2009 “Star Trek” film. He also has become a dad.

Meanwhile, friend and co-star Kal Penn, who plays Kumar, took a job as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Returning to “Harold and Kumar” after all this time seemed unlikely. “We couldn’t play 23 anymore,” says Cho, recently in The City to promote the film. “I just felt like we had to age.”

So as the new movie begins, Harold and Kumar have grown apart. Harold is married, while Kumar still lives in their old apartment. Eventually a Christmas gift brings the friends together again and sends them on another comic odyssey into New York City.

“We’re not comedians, and Kal and I,” Cho says. “The situations are funny, but we never think about how we can be funny. I think our job is to make Harold and Kumar believable as friends.”

The actors’ Korean and Indian heritages strengthen their bond, Cho says. “America thinks about race in black and white, only two poles. We’re sort of in-between. It’s a good source of humor. But it’s also kind of double underdog status for our characters.”

The movie’s show-stopper occurs when the heroes stumble into a full-fledged musical number led by Neil Patrick Harris, a regular in the Harold and Kumar series. Cho says it was his favorite scene to film.

“It’s weird that in a Harold and Kumar movie, I would end up doing something that felt so old Hollywood,” he says.

Weird, but not so weird. “It’s all about love,” Cho says. “That’s how I see it.”

IF YOU GO

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Danny Trejo, Elias Koteas

Written by Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Rated R

Running time 1 hour 30 minutes

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D ChristmasartsentertainmentKal PennMovies

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101 through The City including Park Presidio Boulevard to help keep transit flowing as traffic increases. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents fill up a new safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

Demonstrators commemorated the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside S.F. City Hall on June 1, 2020.<ins></ins>
Chauvin verdict: SF reacts after jury finds ex-officer guilty on all charges

San Franciscans were relieved Tuesday after jurors found a former Minneapolis police… Continue reading

San Francisco Unified School District Board member Faauuga Moliga, right, pictured with Superintendent Vincent Matthews on the first day back to classrooms, will be board vice president for the remander of the 2121 term. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faauuga Moliga named as school board vice president to replace Alison Collins

The San Francisco school board on Tuesday selected board member Fauuga Moliga… Continue reading

Legislation by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman would require The City to add enough new safe camping sites, such as this one at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin, to accomodate everyone living on the street. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City would create sites for hundreds of tents under new homeless shelter proposal

Advocates say funding better spent on permanent housing

Most Read