Home > Reviews > HAROLD & KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY – George S. Clinton


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The sequel to the surprise 2004 hit Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay sees the two perennial stoners – John Cho and Kai Penn – attempting to travel to Amsterdam so Harold can pursue a budding romance with his neighbor Maria (Paula Garces). After running into Kumar’s old girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Harris) and her obnoxious fiancèe at the airport, Kumar remembers his old feelings for her and decides to try to win her back. However, when Kumar is mistaken for a terrorist, the pair are sent to Guantanamo Bay detention camp – from which, as the title of the film suggests, they must escape.

The film is directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hay Schlossberg, and is scored by George S. Clinton, taking over musical duties from David Kitay, who scored the original. The score opens with an unexpectedly exciting action sequence in “Ron Fox/Interrogation/Gitmo”, which is all dark horn chords and thrusting string work, and is quite unlike anything you would anticipate hearing in a score for a film like this.

Much of rest of the score has the same feeling of being music which is too good to be in this film: “Osama Ben Kumar” has a slight Arabic twist in the orchestrations before launching into some more strident action music; the wonderfully-named “Cockmeat Sandwich” opens with a lithe Arabic vocalist intoning over threatening string chords; and “Vanessa” has a pretty, contemporary guitar-led love theme.

The KKK have ominous organs and a hint of Deliverance’s banjo strumming prior to even more energetic dance-like action music in “KKKP/Escape the KKK”; there’s some typically tripped out Indian sitar music for the marijuana hallucinations in “Unicorn Mushroom”, and Clinton even invades Remote Control action territory in the exciting “Free Fall”, before wrapping things up with a quietly romantic sweep in “Kumar’s Poem”. All in all, it’s hugely enjoyable stuff.

Comedy music is always at its best when the composer approaches the project as if he’s scoring War and Peace. None of it is original or in any way groundbreaking, but it’s testament to Clinton’s talents that he overcomes the negative preconceptions one might have about the music for this film, and writes quite a lot of impressive stuff regardless.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Ron Fox/Interrogation/Gitmo (3:29)
  • Osama Ben Kumar (2:52)
  • Cockmeat Sandwich (4:25)
  • America (1:27)
  • Vanessa/Vanessa Leaves/School Daze/All Wet (1:49)
  • Dead Bambi/Cell Phone/Doors/Cyrus (3:00)
  • Ching Chong (1:17)
  • KKKP/Escape the KKK (1:54)
  • Lucre (2:31)
  • Unicorn Mushroom (2:10)
  • Branded (1:22)
  • Hewitt Texas/Broken Heel/The Airport (3:45)
  • Free Fall (4:47)
  • Pardon/Harold & Kumar Arrive (2:34)
  • Kumar’s Poem (2:24)
  • He’s Alive (0:14)

Running Time: 40 minutes 40 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-34011 (2008)

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