Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer seemed mediocre.
Sharpness usually looked fine. Some softness interfered, mostly during wider shots. Nonetheless, the majority of the movie was appropriately concise and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I saw some mild edge enhancement at times. No significant print concerns appeared. The movie looked a bit grainy at times, but otherwise the movie lacked any noticeable defects.
Colors were erratic. The movie tended toward a muted palette that seemed a bit off some of the time. The colors were acceptable but tended to be a little dense. Blacks were fairly dark and tight, and shadows showed reasonable clarity. This was a perfectly watchable image but not anything more than that.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack of Bay, it worked pretty well. Like most comedies, the soundfield emphasized the front channels. The music displayed good imaging, and effects broadened to the sides well. They presented a nice sense of atmosphere and kicked into action well when appropriate. Surround usage rarely took center stage, but they added to the presentation at times. The surrounds lacked great involvement, but they were fine for this sort of flick.
Audio quality was quite good. Speech came across as natural and crisp, with no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Effects were clear and accurate. They showed good range and clarity as well. Music worked very nicely, especially in regard to the mix of source songs. Those presented strong definition and liveliness, and the whole package showed tight, rich bass. Again, there wasn’t anything special about the soundtrack, but it seemed more than acceptable for the material.
To launch its supplements, Bay comes with two audio commentaries. The first one presents writers/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg and actors Kal Penn and John Cho, all of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. The participants get into cast and performances, characters and story issues, sets, production design, and shooting in Louisiana, deleted scenes and changes made for the extended cut, making their directorial debut, and a mix of other production topics.
Though a little too much joking around occurs, the commentary usually provides a pretty good look at the flick. It delves into the various subjects in an effective manner that covers things well. The movie itself is a dud, but the commentary works well.
For the next commentary, we hear from writers/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, actor James Adomian and Harold Lee, the real-life inspiration for the movie’s title character. All four sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. They discuss sets and shooting in Shreveport, cast and performances, the film’s title and story issues, and a smattering of related subjects.
Since the directors covered much of the same territory in the first commentary, this one tends to sputter. They try to fill time with Adomian’s impressions of President Bush and others, but those attempts at comedy fall flat. Honestly, the guy’s not very good, at least not at doing Bush; I’m not sure how he gets work in that capacity. (He was pretty bad as Bush in the movie as well.) Lee offers very little and doesn’t seem necessary; his presence made more sense for the first movie, but he adds little here. It’s clearly the weaker of the two tracks.
For something different, we get an interactive feature called Dude, Change the Movie. This lets you choose where the story will go at various points – 11, to be exact. Some of the choices lead to short added scenes, while others create more substantial variations. The biggest happens first: if Kumar doesn’t smoke on the plane, we get a long video called Harold and Kumar Go to Amsterdam. It’s easily the most substantial of the bunch, though others also create very different paths as well; don’t choose “Freedom” in Guantanamo and that ends the movie right there.
Another major option occurs at Raza’s party. We can flip from the bottomless party to the topless party. The bottomless party is hotter – too much silicone in the new version – but it’s still a cool alternate edition. We also get to see Harold’s dream instead of Kumar’s and a few other interesting variants. This is a really fun option that adds a lot to the release.
DVD One opens with some ads. We get promos for Semi-Pro, Run, Fatboy, Run, and Lost Boys: The Tribe. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area.
Over on DVD Two, we open with a featurette called Inside the World of Harold and Kumar. This 21-minute and 44-second show mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and comments from Hurwitz, Schlossberg, Cho, Penn, stunt coordinator Steve Ritzi, and actors Eddie Kaye Thomas and Neil Patrick Harris, Rob Cordrry, Roger Bart, Beverly D’Angelo, Jack Conley, Echo Valley, Ed Helms, Danneel Harris, Chris Meloni, and David Krumholtz. The show covers story topics, cast, characters and performances, the work of the directors, stunts, and a few general issues. At times, the program gives us some decent details. However, it usually stays superficial and promotional, so don’t expect much from it.
18 Deleted Scenes run a total of 19 minutes and eight seconds. In addition, we get nine Extras that fill seven minutes, 11 seconds; these are also cut sequences, and I’m not sure why they’re put in a separate section. A lot of the clips simply act as extensions to existing scenes, so don’t expect a lot of truly new story material. Plenty of additional takes of various scenes also appear. The most substantial sequence shows Secretary Fox’s raid on a bus. Fans will probably enjoy the scenes, but I can’t say I think they offer much.
One annoyance about the scenes: they’re presented in what seems to be random order. They’d work better if they ran in the movie’s chronological context.
More from the movie’s fake president shows up in a Bush PSA. In this one-minute and 54-second clip, Adomian reprises his ineffective impersonation of W as he tries to convince us to see the flick. It’s pretty lame.
Finally, we find a few Trailers. We find the movie’s teaser along with its general and “red band” ads.
While the original flick didn’t dazzle, it looks pretty good compared to the limp Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. It runs too long and offers too few laughs along the way. The DVD presents mediocre picture quality, pretty good audio and a terrific roster of extras. The latter will make fans happy, but I can’t recommend this tedious flick to new viewers.