24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Harold & Kumar

Harold and Kumar go to Zuccotti Park

November 8, 2011 |  3:48 pm

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."


'Puss in Boots' pounces on 'Tower Heist'

Harold & Kumar writers on the art of offensive comedy

Kal Penn: From White Castle to the White House and back

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: John Cho, left, and Kal Penn in "A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas." Credit: New Line

Box Office: 'Puss in Boots' pounces on 'Tower Heist' [Video]

November 7, 2011 |  3:55 pm

Puss in Boots was the No 1 film for the second weekend in a row
Heading into the weekend, it was expected that "Tower Heist" would hijack the No. 1 spot at the box office from any rivals.

But the animated 3-D film "Puss in Boots," which debuted in the top position last weekend, maintained a far better than projected hold at the multiplex. Ticket sales for the film dropped only an unprecedented 3% to $33 million, bringing the film's total to $75.5 million in North America, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures.

That left the Eddie Murphy-Ben Stiller comedy "Tower Heist" in second place with a soft $25.1 million. That was better than the soft $13.1 million "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" started off with. But the so-so results for "Tower Heist" may not be a good omen for Murphy, who is set to host the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony in February.

Could this weekend's results be a bellwether for the 2012 Oscar ratings? Watch this week's box office video report for more details.


A long-planned 'Heist'

'Puss in Boots' showcases work by India animators for DreamWorks

'Puss in Boots' steals No. 1 spot at the box office from 'Tower Heist'

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: A scene from "Puss in Boots." Credit: DreamWorks Animation

'Harold & Kumar' writers on the art of offensive comedy

November 4, 2011 |  5:32 pm

John Cho, Neil Patrick Harris and Kal Penn in 'A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas'

In Hollywood, the holiday season often means releasing animated movies about Santa, rom-coms about the search for that New Year’s Eve kiss and even the occasional film about the first Christmas. This year stoner pals Harold and Kumar are joining in on the seasonal cheer.

The characters, whose story started with 2004’s “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” are back on the big screen this week in “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. After helming the second film, “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay,” the duo handed the director’s chair over to Todd Strauss-Schulson to give themselves more time to work on “American Reunion,” the next installment in the “American Pie” franchise, which they’re writing and directing.

At the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Hurwitz and Schlossberg talked to 24 Frames' Emily Rome about revisiting high school memories to write “American Reunion,” getting paid to write fan fiction and why a holiday movie is the perfect place for Harold and Kumar to have their next adventure.

E.R.: When you were writing “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” did you have any idea this would become a franchise and gain the fandom it has?

J.H: It's funny because it was always our hope. The very first script for “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” ended with “to be continued.” We just enjoyed writing these characters so much, and we're guys who grew up as fans of franchises. There are so many franchises that we grew up watching that when we think of writing our movies, oftentimes we think about what the next movie would be.

E.R.: Todd Strauss-Schulson was a big fan of the first two “Harold & Kumar” movies before taking on directing this installment, right?

H.S.: Sort of like the way we were with “American Pie.” He watched the “Harold & Kumar” movies, really liked them, and you could see that he was enthusiastic about it. It felt good, and we think that he did a great job, and it worked out perfectly.

J.H.: It’s fun when there’s somebody who’s a fan of the work that you're doing, and they get to play around in the sandbox. Like Hayden was saying, that's what “American Reunion” was for us. We got to go in there, and all these characters that we were in love with we now got to write and direct.

E.R.: Almost like writing fan fic but getting paid for it.

H.S.: Exactly.

J.H.: That's what we always say -– that it's like the highest-end fan fiction of all time.

E.R.: It’s not that often you see a Korean American and an Indian American leading a mainstream movie. When you wrote the script for the first movie, was there a fear that the studio would want to change the race of the characters?


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