Did you assume, while enjoying Friday After Next in 2002, that you'd soon be treated to Christmas movies featuring marijuana intake every holiday season? Well, that just means you were high, because it's been nearly a decade and the only film that's really come close to presenting the chemically dependent side of Christmas in that entire time has been Bad Santa. Yeah, there was also the The Nutcracker in 3D, but that movie just leaves you feeling scared that you've been dosed with bad LSD, which isn't quite the same thing.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas begins with a blunted bad Santa of its own (Patton Oswalt) and some 3D weed smoke that morphs into a wreath which, in turn, becomes the title sequence. That's how you know you're in for exactly what you hoped this would be: idiocy in the form of 3D beer pong and penis-based re-creations of the famous tongue-stuck-to-the-pole scene of A Christmas Story and Neil Patrick Harris as his own fake-gay, crackhead alter ego.
Plots are irrelevant where sequels like this are concerned, but you could say it involves family and friendship and other auld lang syne stuff and that it uses unplanned pregnancy, attempted sexual assault, toddlers on cocaine and the point-blank shooting of (the good, real) Santa in the face to achieve its goals. For a movie dead set on proving how formless, witless and artless it is, it can't get away from the fact that it's another installment in a series of stoner comedies that are actually pretty smart about everything, from racial stereotyping right down to in-jokes about Kal Penn serving on President Obama's staff.
If you're not already a fan of these characters, there's nothing in this third go-round to convince you to change your mind. And if you are a fan, there's also nothing here to challenge your expectations. For some people that'll seem like failure right out of the box, but it's the only accusation that'll stick. In its slower moments you can feel the movie coasting on familiarity and audience affection and maybe you'll wish that they'd push the outrageousness forward just a little bit more. But sometimes happily accomplishing what everybody wants you to accomplish is reward enough, even if that accomplishment is nothing more than setting a Christmas tree on fire with a joint given to you by your dealer, Santa Claus.