Wednesday April 23, 2014

Watching Harold and Kumar in 2D

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Today I am going to talk about the technological advances in the moviegoing experience – or general lack of it, in my case.

On Grey Cup weekend I had the dubious distinction of going to a “Harold and Kumar” movie in Saskatoon. First of all, I want to say that I didn’t really intend to actually go to a Harold and Kumar movie to begin with. What I really wanted to see was Tower Heist, that anti-establishment Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy revenge-heist movie.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t playing at the Galaxy in Saskatoon when I was downtown that Sunday afternoon, so I had to choose something else. There was no way I was going to pay any money to see any Twilight movie, and I was too old for the Muppets.

By process of elimination, I chose A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas in 3D. There was just one problem. The Galaxy wasn’t showing it in 3D. All their 3D-equipped theatres were booked with other 3D flicks, so they had to put the Harold and Kumar flick in one of their conventional cinemas in 2D.

That was the bad news. The only good news was that it was being shown by digital projection, which is different from projecting a straight film because they use digital technology.

Think of what it is like playing a DVD on a DVD player and watching it. Basically, digital projection amounts to that, except they show it on a wide screen in a theatre. I have to say the picture you get from digital projection is a decided step above the old, traditional film projection. It was crisp and clear, with no lines or dirt on the screen.

That was good, except this still gave the Galaxy their excuse to charge an arm and a leg to the customer to see the movie. In my case, it was over eleven bucks. What they should have done was simply have shown it in 3D to begin with, like it was supposed to be shown.

This Harold and Kumar movie was obviously made with 3D audiences in mind. They had put in some over-the-top 3D-specific gags such as eggs being thrown and glass flying through the air, all of which is supposed to be jumping out of the screen at you. Things like that.

But because my theatre showed it in 2D, the whole thing ended up looking like one of those old SCTV skits featuring John Candy’s character Dr. Tongue. In that skit Dr. Tonge used to present “3D” movies on 2D television and would hold things in his hand and move it back and forth in front of the camera to replicate the 3D effect, complete with sound effects. That was part of the gag.

Of course, this whole situation of a 3D Harold and Kumar movie being shown in 2D leads to all the usual jokes about how audiences could have gotten around this 2D situation by smoking joints before watching the movie. The experience would then be just like watching it in 3D, they’d say.

Very funny. Next, these jokers will want the movie theatres to start selling marijuana at the concession stands in order to “enhance the moviegoing experience.” What a farce.

Anyway, the bottom line is that watching A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas in 2D was a waste of time. I should’ve seen it in 3D.

Then again, watching it in 2D ultimately saved me the cost of shelling out even more money for 3D glasses, plus it spared me the usual headaches and vertigo I get whenever I watch movies using 3D glasses. You get what you pay for, I guess.

It’s too bad, because otherwise the movie was pretty good. The plot had the usual twists and turns you would expect. The movie was funny as heck. Having said that, it is not for everyone.

The previous two movies featuring these characters were Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004), and Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008). These flicks were loaded with grossout humor and requisite appearances by series regular Neil Patrick Harris – and of course, plenty of weed. In the last flick, Harold and Kumar were smoking weed with George W. Bush. In this one, they were smoking joints with, of course, Santa Claus.

My point is that the adventures of these two best friends, played by John Cho and Kal Penn, are definitely an acquired taste. You’ll either find it funny, or just be revolted by the marijuana-smoking and the disgusting shock-value humor in them.

That’s why Harold and Kumar movies are never huge hits. In fact, this actually is a defining characteristic of this whole series: the lousy theatre attendances. When I went to this latest movie at the Galaxy, the theatre was basically empty. The box office totals for the previous two were as bad if not worse.

Business for Harold and Kumar is terrible everywhere, year after year, yet these movies keep getting made. One reason people don’t bother to see it live is because they wouldn’t be caught dead in a theatre watching this revolting garbage. However, they are quite okay with watching this revolting garbage at home. The DVD market for Harold and Kumar is through the roof. That’s why three of these movies have been made now and there will probably be a fourth after this one.

Now, here’s an idea for the next movie I would like to see made in this series. “Harold and Kumar Go to North Battleford.”

It would be the best movie of the whole bunch, but it would also probably kill the franchise forever. I expect it would have a far different “drug activity does not pay” ending that would finish off Harold and Kumar’s marijuana activities for good.

Believe me, these two idiots wouldn’t survive very long in this community. Among other things, the local RCMP police are pretty vigilant about cracking down on any and all illegal drug activity, especially marijuana. There have been some major drug busts here in the past month alone. If Harold and Kumar were ever to come to North Battleford, I’m sure they would be busted pretty quickly.

These two are best advised to stay in New Jersey where they belong. Besides, there’s no White Castle restaurant in North Battleford, either, so they are wasting their time even coming here. Sorry, Harold and Kumar. The Battlefords may want more visitors here, but it’s pretty obvious they don’t want you.

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