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“Jumping the Shark” = “Going Harold & Kumar”

First coined when the popular TV series Happy Days had Fonzie literally jump over a shark near the beach on jet water skis, the term “Jump the Shark” denotes that a series has ran out of ideas. Yet, in order to milk every ounce of popularity, the series will try anything and everything in order to continue. The film franchise “Harold & Kumar” with John Cho and Kal Penn, which had gained a cult following with its first movie, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, appears to be more than just “jumping the shark” with its third installment, the upcoming A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.

After the absolutely ridiculous Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, which was agreed by many critics and fans to be worse than White Castle, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema decided to go ahead and put the duo in a Christmas movie, a giant red flag for an installment in any series (see Star Wars Christmas Special).

In the first part of the trailer, Harold and Kumar shoot Santa down from his sleigh with a shotgun. That is already, without the brand of Harold and Kumar, a nonsensical idea that shouldn’t go beyond the realm of a short on YouTube. That moment might seem like the inciting incident for the story, but, given the heavy stoner themes throughout, it might just be a bad “trip” that Harold and Kumar are on. The intended lack of clarity here that questions whether the duo has to follow the stock Hollywood model by saving Christmas or just get really high and have to deal with the consequences quickly brings the movie under further suspicion. Marketing companies often resort to this technique of promoting a totally different movie altogether if they don’t believe the actual movie is appealing to a target demographic.

In other parts of the trailer, Neil Patrick Harris, who was killed in Escape from Guantanamo Bay, is somehow back in real life and subverting his real life persona, claiming he’s not gay. There’s even a part where Harold and Kumar are “claymated”. Even worse and incredibly ironic is a part where the words “jumped the shark” are actually uttered.

The story that connects all these moments together undoubtedly has to be so disjointed that the chances of the movie being any good, even as a stoner-buddy-road comedy, are more unlikely than George Lucas completely redeeming himself with “old guard” Star Wars fans. This whole apparent fiasco is just a testament to how studios, networks, and production companies focus on producing a product based on marketing rather than making a product that is legitimately good, then figuring a way to market it. The “Harold & Kumar” franchise has a built-in audience that knows what to expect, and with a the release of a Christmas-themed movie during Christmas, it’s simple dollars and sense as to why this movie was made.

The only consolation from the release of A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, at this point, is if Paul Scheer does an episode of How Did This Get Made? on it. However, if studio executives admit the apparent sham they’re perpetuating, that would be the purest instance of “going Harold & Kumar.”

Jake Kroeger writes on comedy at The Comedy Bureau and Laughspin. Follow him on Twitter at @mfjakekroeger.

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  1. Beeznitchio says:

    Not sure why Nerdist has turned into a trailer hating site but I really don’t get why a Christmas movie spells certain doom. Vacation great movie. European Vacation not so great a movie. Christmas Vacation comparable to the first in quality.

    Anyhow, this is where you writers shoot back that anyone who doesn’t like your negative rants on trailers don’t get the comedy and then compare yourselves to MST3K.

  2. Daniel says:

    1. Who the fuck are you?
    2. Where does this inexplicable hostility towards a *trailer* come from?

    The first and second harold and kumar were sloppy but delightful movies, with plenty of very funny people. Why think that this will be any different? (this one has Patton Oswalt!) You’re criticizing it on the basis of *plot logic*? The point of this, if there is one, is *worrying* that this movie *might* jump the shark.

    This website is filling up with posts by unfunny writers who lack a coherent point of view (are the mediocre recruiting the even more mediocre?) Let’s pare it back, or else it’s going to start hurting the Chris Hardwick brand, let alone Nerdist.

  3. Anita says:

    Love both John Cho and Kal Penn so will probably come see this for them, even if it sucks.

  4. Deniro says:


    I’m aware this will come off as trolling but i truly mean this with all sincerity:

    Stop being such a little bitch.

    Who gives a shit if this movie is crappy? Why are you so affected by it? Maybe you think that had the studio not greenlit this movie your brilliant idea would have been rushed through production and on screens? Are you upset at your lack of access? Maybe you’re angry that some crappy writers were hired to write this script when you would have done a better job with it?

    What needy attribute of your psyche did you need to satiate by shitting on this movie trailer of all things? I suppose if making this post brought you some sense of happiness or superiority I forgive it’s frivolity. But do you really think it’s best to stimulate those emotions through negativity?

    Just relax man, don’t let things affect you so much. If you don’t plan on liking it just don’t see it. You’re not in high school anymore.

  5. RobM says:

    Actually re-watching the first movie now. Is a claymation sequence that much more crazy than the original’s sequence where Harold gets knocked unconscious and imagines himself in a CGI village populated by anthropomorphic burgers, and he rescues Maria from a castle before turning into Zorro?

  6. Tim says:

    I’m going to spout off the same things that the other comments are saying: Don’t judge it until you have seen it.

    Considering that the Nerdist Podcast is all about NOT spewing venom on the internet, this post seemed really hate-filled and out-of-place.

  7. Calm down fellow nerds and maybe some stoners. Is Jake wrong for critisizing a movie before it comes out, yes. Will he be right though? Maybe. I don’t care for other peoples opinions of comedy since everyone has a different taste. I laugh at poop jokes and i laugh at “smart” jokes. I typically don’t like stoner movies but I’ve always found the H&K series to be slightly funny. If it keeps me entertained while i’m watching it, it has done it’s job. It looks like it’s not taking itself seriously so why should I?

  8. Chris Nixon says:

    I didn’t realise the movie had been released yet. What theatre is it in so I can go and judge it too?

  9. stellarific says:

    As far as jumping the shark is considered, if you’re going to do it, best to go farther (and more intentional) than anyone has before. Jump that shark guys, jump FIVE sharks on a dolphin while wearing scuba masks and ladies underwear.

  10. Jim says:

    I’ll just say this looks like the first H&K that will be funny. In fact I think it will be Avatarded.

  11. Tom Steele says:

    Just think, Kal Penn left working for the White House to make this.

  12. Big_Al says:

    Ummm… I believe they are actively EMBRACING “Jumping the shark” and you are too busy snarking each individual joke to get the meta. They are not barely jumping by doing one or two cheesy things, thay are doing ALL the JtS stuff in one flick. 3D, Christmas, Back from the dead, claymation…. Come on, you don’t get that? “Lighten up Francis.”

    Movie still might suck, but I think you might be hating on it for the wrong reason.

  13. Adam says:

    Looks terrible, but you have to earn the right to criticize a movie by actually sitting through it.

  14. Ben Weldon says:

    I’m someone who loved the first movie, HATED the second and facepalmd when i heard the premise of the third. This trailer actually makes me want to check it out now. Eff the shark, this could be when H&K “grows the beard”.
    “Life begins on the other side of the shark.” – Tina Fey

  15. Spencer says:

    The ferocity with which this was written has only been achieved in the likes of WoW guild blogs. It was rife with evidence wasted degrees and hours spent critiquing “The Jerk.” You could almost hear the snorts of derision and sense that somewhere in the world someone was pushing up their glasses with a satisfied grin.
    Its a stupid movie full of cheap laughs at the expense of a coherent plot and the world is better for it.
    I give this movie two erect nipples!
    I give this review 3 uptight hipsters!
    I give my comment 5 hypocritical fox news anchors!
    Merry Christmas!

  16. I don’t think the trailer was funny, but I agree with Chud.

  17. Nathaniel H. says:

    Knowing the franchise, I’m going to have to say this looks like a great idea to me! Making it to intentionally parody 3-D was also a funny call, so I’m actually looking forward to that. I’ve been wondering when 3-D would go so far that someone would make a comedy in 3-D, and here it is!

    I must also add that I’m a franchise fan, so I’m biased, but since the second movie was just a “more extreme” version of the premise of the first, I’m glad the third one’s going to be such a unique premise.

  18. Trujillo says:

    Might see the movie just because it was filmed in Detroit and I recognize a lot of the places in this trailer. The scene where NPH is talking to Jesus was shot in the Detroit opera house. There’s a street shotin the beginning of the trailer I knew because they cut all the leaves of the trees in spring to make it look like winter in New York.

  19. Jake Kroeger says:

    I did see “Escape From Guantanamo Bay” with high hopes as I was a big fan of the first movie. However, it was such a letdown that I was not sticking around for the after-credits scene. It’s just sad to see what could have been a decent buddy comedy franchise just go to waste.

  20. Solonor says:

    I don’t like stoner comedies, but I love H&K. I don’t know if it’s them or NPH, but I find them ridiculous and funny. I thought the trailer was quite good, actually.

  21. JimC says:

    C’mon! I laughed and I think stoner comedies are only ever funny to other stoners.

  22. Thoaar says:

    Besides – Ted McGinley isn’t in the cast. You can’t properly kill off the series without including Ted in the cast.

  23. Kronos says:

    The question for me is, can you make a movie so awful that it is actually good. Bad puns and shlock aside, if you take every crappy x-mas movie and smash it over the head with a stoner film, in complete awareness of what you’re doing, could you make a decent comedy? However, I would never watch this sober, I would consider getting pretty high. Only then would I find it drop dead funny.

  24. Chud says:

    And the point of this is what?

    To slam a film you haven’t seen, which is a sequel to a film you didn’t see, which was a sequel to a film you didn’t like.

    Top notch blogging, there. You have absolutely no clue what ‘jumping the shark’ means if you think that’s what this is.

    The fact that it’s a Christmas movie is part of the joke. If you don’t want to see it, fine. If you don’t like the trailer, fine. But are you dense enough to think this is an honset-to-god Christmas film trying to appeal to the commercial masses?

  25. Fixed the jet-ski thing myself, because I saw it beforehand and it just didn’t register. May Jon Hein forgive us all.

    Having not seen “Guantanamo Bay,” and not having any plans to do so (or to see this edition), I will recede into the editorial woodwork and let you guys fight it out.

  26. Jay says:

    Also if you watched the after credit scene you would know that NPH survived the gun shot. You can’t kill Barney because he’s legen- wait for it- dary!

  27. Thoaar says:

    just to clarify something, NPH is shown to still be alive in the scene after the credits roll in Escape from Guantanamo Bay – there is no ‘somehow’ about it

  28. RobM says:

    Plus, it looks like the death of NPH will be dealt with beyond the “don’t you remember” scene, given that he’s talking to Jesus in heaven. Probably a dream, but still.

  29. Ryan says:

    Someone didn’t stick around for the Guantanimo credits…. 😉

  30. jerry garcia says:

    Happy Days had jet skis?

    seriously, i thought that it was saved by the bell and zack morris.

  31. Magnoliafan says:

    That looks pretty sweet

  32. Jesse G says:

    Doesn’t seem fair to review a film based on it’s trailer. You may be right, but you also may be surprised. Better to go in with an open mind.

  33. RobM says:

    Wow. Someone really did not like this trailer.

    I’d like to add that many of the things mentioned here as proof the franchise has gone off the road are things that, say, Community has done wonderfully. A “jump the shark” joke. Claymation. Christmas musical numbers.

    And this would never make it to How Did This Get Made, because that podcast is about movies that take themselves seriously. Even if this movie doesn’t end up being funny, it’d have to be Love Guru-levels of unfunny and weirdly random to make the show. This is a franchise which, as noted above, started with a movie in which the characters ride a cheetah, and has slowly gotten more ridiculous. I don’t see how any of the above jumped the line into overly unrealistic considering we started out pretty cartoonish.

  34. Jake says:

    The difference, I believe, is that you damn well know what you’re getting into with H&K. They DID ride a fucking cheetah, hangglide, go anime, and spousily abuse a bag of weed in the first one… this has never been Fellini.

    I openly embrace the absurdity.