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Two years have passed since Escape. Harold has married Maria and moved out of the apartment. Kumar is still living in the apartment, was expelled from medical school for failing a drug test, and broke up with Vanessa. When circumstances bring them back together, Kumar accidentally destroys a beloved Christmas tree belonging to Harold's father-in-law and our heroes must frantically search for a replacement before he finds out.
Filming was delayed because Kal Penn took a leave of absence from Hollywood in 2009 for an indeterminate time to work for the Obama administration. In 2010 he left the administration so that work can begin on the third movie, in probably the first case of a public servant leaving to pursue acting in a stoner comedy and then allowed to return immediately after.
This movie contains examples of:
- ~3-D Movie~: Mocked at the beginning, and gratuitously exploited throughout the rest of the movie.
- Actor Allusion: Harold is referred to as "Sulu". John Cho played Sulu in Star Trek.
- Also, when the arrive at the party, Adrian admits he told the girl that Kumar worked at the White House. Kal Penn worked in the Obama White House.
- Adult Child: Kumar; part of the plot is focused on him learning that he needs to grow up.
- Aesop Amnesia: Harold didn't learn from the last movie to be less uptight; Kumar didn't learn to be more considerate of others.
- Armoured Closet Gay: Inverted with NPH, who pretends to be gay only to trick women into taking their clothes off and getting "massages" from him.
- Babies Ever After: Kumar finds out that Vanessa's pregnant early on; Maria & Harold are trying for a baby, and find out she's pregnant on Christmas Day.
- Beard of Sorrow: Kumar grew one after Vanessa broke up with him. He shaves it off before visiting Harold.
- Berserk Button: Don't tell Wafflebot that you prefer pancakes to waffles (or threaten his new friend Kumar); he will kick your ass.
- Big Damn Heroes: Wafflebot.
- Billing Displacement: Not that Neil Patrick Harris isn't funny, but he's in three scenes, and is inconsequential to the plot.
- Not entirely true. Harold and Kumar would be dead if he hadn't given them Wafflebot.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: NPH says goodbye to Harold and Kumar by saying "See you in the fourth one."
- Call Back: Kumar mentions "cockmeat sandwiches." They also have dinner at a White Castle. It goes much more smoothly this time.
- Chekhov's Gift: Wafflebot from Neil.
- Continuity Nod: Kenneth Park, Class of 2004 reappears. There is also a flashback to the second movie when NPH gets shot.
- Dead Baby Comedy: Not dead, just high on weed, cocaine and ecstasy.
- Death Is Cheap: Or it is, according to NPH, when you cockblock Jesus.
- Did Not Do the Research: The 3D glasses for a Sharp 52" Quattron LCD tv aren't the "cinema'style" 3D glasses, they have their own patented ones.
- Double Standard Rape (Female on Male): With Mary.
- Gag Penis: Kumar's during the claymation sequence.
- Happily Married: Harold and Maria.
- Killer Rabbit: Wafflebot.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Kenneth Park gives the audience a two gun finger salute while talking about the 3D of a TV he bought. Harold asks "What are you pointing at?"
- The Mafiya: The Ukrainian mobsters.
- Meaningful Echo: "I don't have to, I want to."
- Mushroom Samba: Harold and Kumar drink eggnog laced with something, and spend some time seeing everything in Claymation.
- My Little Panzer: Wafflebot. A robot designed to make waffles for children can shoot maple syrup hot enough to burn through ropes and a guy's face with pinpoint accuracy..
- Naughty Nuns: While Kumar is explaining his plan to steal a tree during Christmas Mass, he invisions a shower room with naked nuns making out.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Wafflebot gives one right before attacking the Ukrainian mobsters:
"Enjoy your pancakes in Hell!"
- Priceless Ming Vase: Carlos' Christmas tree.
- Real Life Relative: Neil's "partner" David is played by David Burtka, Neil Patrick Harris's partner in real life.
- Replacement Goldfish: Harold and Kumar got replacement friends after their breakup. But Kumar's is a white Nerds Are Virgins stereotype, and Harold's is an uptight Gosh Darn It to Heck white stereotype; they don't like them that much.
- Role Ending Misdemeanor: In-universe, Kumar lost his job as a doctor after failing a drug test.
- Serious Business: Christmas trees are serious business for Maria's dad, because when he was a kid his mother was killed in an alleyway (by Korean gangsters) while bringing home Christmas ornaments.
- Sequel Hook: "See you in the fourth one."
- Shout-Out: One of the protestors' signs reads "Eat the Rich"
- Take That Me: Early in the film, when an assistant presents Harold with a large flat screen 3DTV, Harold asks "Hasn't 3D Jumped the Shark by now?"
- Those Two Bad Guys: The Ukrainian mob goons.
- Tongue on the Flagpole: Harold, but it's not his tongue.
- Zany Scheme: Once Harold and Kumar fail to pick up a Christmas tree at a Christmas tree lot, every one of their attempts to get a replacement tree is one of these.