Up In Smoke

Cast and Creators of Harold and Kumar Hope to Restrike Comic Gold While Pushing the Boundaries of Good Taste

New Line Cinema/Courtesy

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Harold and Kumar inspire a lot of laughter in the theater, but in a chic suite of the St. Regis Hotel, the quips fly unscripted. Writers Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz are at ease with one another, finishing a trail of thought where one leaves off. Kumar star Kal Penn may be missing from the scene, but the camaraderie doesn't lack flavor. Then Harold co-star John Cho walks in. Hurwitz jokes, "This is John Cho. He plays Neil Patrick Harris in the franchise."

Schlossberg and Hurwitz are excited to talk about their second installment, "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay," opening in theaters tomorrow. They wax about the writing process, about picking up the story right where it left off. Where do Harold and Kumar go after White Castle? What's more fun than getting stoned and eating mini-burgers?

"We knew they had to go to Amsterdam," Schlossberg explains, "Yet we didn't want to do the same Europe story. So we're like, 'Well, what happens if on the plane Kumar gets mistaken for a terrorist?' … When Kal Penn's at an airport, he gets frisked more than you would think. So there's something true about it, and it led to this serendipitous concept for them to be caught in Gitmo, which sounds sort of more controversial than it actually is."

Schlossberg and Hurwitz step up to directing this time, but working and laughing together is nothing new to them. They bonded in high school over comedy, and here they throw out names: Howard Stern, Farrelly brothers, Zucker brothers, Conan O'Brien, Adam Sandler, "South Park," Dave Chappelle…

"Carrot Top," Cho suggests.

"Of course, Carrot Top," Hurwitz assures him. "That's obvious."

Their biggest obstacle with the sequel is overcoming the first, though that doesn't seem to be too much of a problem for the trio. They're en pointe today, but they're honest about worries. That comes from being fans of their own work and the characters they've created: They know where the pitfalls lie, what the audience ultimately wants to see. Their goal with "Guantanamo"? Make the audience laugh its ass off. Judging from their rapport, that shouldn't be much of a worry.

"There's a certain fun of going out of town and immersing yourself in a project," Cho says. "Particularly one where you're laughing everyday and trying to make people laugh every day. It's like a two-month long night on the town." "It's kind of like camp," Schlossberg adds.

"We canoed a lot." Cho delivers the line, straight-faced.

Cho has turned out to be a powerful actor despite playing a stoner. He's gone from the MILF dude in the "American Pie" series to Harold to Sulu in the upcoming "Star Trek" flick, and he's in no danger of being typecast.

"Harold is an everyman character and can move from one story to another without a lot of problems," he explains. "These are uptown problems to think about: 'Boy, this movie will get so big that it may color the way people see me in the next project.' It's not something you worry about. That's sort of like, 'Boy, will I become an asshole if I have 10 million dollars?' Who cares?"

The guys push the limits, seeing how close they can skirt an NC-17 rating or how far they can sauce up the return of Neil Patrick Harris. "Guantanamo" needs to take the adventure to the next level, raise the stakes a little, and Schlossberg and Hurwitz don't shirk their commitment to comedy.

Schlossberg's convinced that they sport credentials in topping what was done before: "We consider ourselves experts of what people have gotten away with."


Play NPH with Christine at [email protected]

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