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Viewers may wish to escape from 'Guantanamo'

The Harold and Kumar sequel squanders an opportunity for sharp political satire as the titular duo are mistaken for terrorists.

Unpatriotic acts: In 'Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,' starring Kal Penn and John Cho, the ethnic duo are arrested at an airport and later interrogated.

Courtesy of jamie trueblood/new line cinema

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When it comes to political satire, how far is too far? Since it's not really satirical or political, "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay" doesn't answer that question. It exploits post-9/11 anxieties as fodder for goofball gooniness. "Dr. Strangelove" it's not.

Not that I was expecting "Strangelove." But maybe just a teensy bit? I was a big fan of "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," in which collegiates Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) move mountains to satisfy their marijuana-inspired cravings for a White Castle hamburger.

That film was a flop in theaters but soon became a cult favorite on DVD – hence this sequel, which picks up right after the first film leaves off. It does not bode well that the first gag we are subjected to is enough to make us, well, gag. The film's coscreenwriters and directors, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, alas wrote the first installment, and they must have figured it's best to get the gross-outs in early.

Like so much of "Guantanamo," they figured wrong. As is so often the case with sequels, this one feels like a retread, albeit on a bigger scale. This time around, the boys are busted on a plane en route to Amsterdam because Kumar, unable to spend six hours without getting high, smuggles his homemade "smokeless bong" into the bathroom. Mistaken for terrorists, they are whisked to Gitmo, where the "political" satire consists of more gag-inducing gross-outs. (Warning: Much of the humor, or so-called humor, in this film is strongly explicit.)

It's an indication of how unserious the politics in this film are that the boys' prison stay over is just a blip on the screen.

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