Filmgoers who've turned out to see "A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas" since it came out last weekend may have been struck by some unusually timely scenes.
Right at the front of the movie, John Cho's Harold, who works in the New York financial world, can be seen in his office near a Wall Street protest. He's then accosted by the protesters, who hurl names (and worse) at him after his assistant provokes them. (Harold holds his tongue -- he's one of those good-guy one-percenters.)
Um, how did a movie shot in the summer of 2010 anticipate a movement that began only in September?
"It's sort of creepy, isn't it?" Cho said.
Over lunch at a downtown restaurant, the actor said that the scenes were actually in a draft of Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg 's script that he read nearly two years ago. While the fallout from the financial crisis had already hit by that point, of course no one could have known it would take this shape.
"It's the weirdest moment I've had will all three movies," Cho said of the Occupy Wall Street scenes, adding, "I had sort of forgotten about it. And then we went into the screening maybe six weeks ago, and there was a bizarre moment in the room when we all kind of looked at each other."
The movie also gets off another topical joke, about the Indian American Kumar working in the White House. (In real life, Kumar actor Kal Penn served for several years in the Obama administration as part of the president’s outreach efforts to arts and minority groups.)
While no movie conceived years ago sought to build in the Occupy movement, the first post-Madoff releases are starting to roll in. The recently released "In Time" and "Tower Heist" both deal with have-and-have-not themes. And Christopher Nolan has been shooting "The Dark Knight Rises" near the protests over the last few weeks -- though not as Occupy Wall Street; the protests will stand in for fictional events in the script.
For a true sense of current events in Hollywood films, then, we may have to look to "Harold and Kumar.” “We're the Nostradamus of stoner comedies,” Cho quipped. “Look for other clues -- everything in the movie will happen at some point."
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: John Cho, left, and Kal Penn in "A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas." Credit: New Line