With all the (often justifiable) grief that 3D’s been getting lately (jacked-up prices, uncomfortable glasses, unnecessary distraction), you have to think the technology’s been itching for a savior– and now it has one.

…in the form of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.

Not only does it give us a real Savior (Jesus, arm in arm with topless hookers in heaven), it also exploits 3D for all it can be… and more.

Where 2008’s Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay got a little sidetracked with its globe-trotting and meandering story, the third flick in the $70 million (so far) franchise rights the ship and brings the boys back to their home turf of NYC/Jersey. And the comedy of errors is at an all-time high (pun intended).

We begin by learning Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) went their separate ways two years earlier, that Kumar and Vanessa (Danneel Harris) have broken up, and the Harold and Maria (Paula Garc├ęs) are now happily married and living in the suburbs.

When Kumar gets a mysterious package addressed to Harold, he tracks his old buddy down, and the mayhem begins. If the plot matters to you, I’ll just mention that it involves a 12-foot Christmas tree, claymation, the Russian mafia, a baby who gets high on pot and cocaine, and a robot that makes awesome waffles.

And, oh yes, Neil Patrick Harris (last seen recovering from his shotgun wounds at that Texas whorehouse) is back, too… along with Rosenberg and Goldstein, a White Castle, and a particularly flinch-worthy homage to A Christmas Story‘s tongue-stuck-to-the-pole scene.

First-time feature director Todd Strauss-Schulson keeps the action and comedy coming, and he does it with a tongue planted firmly in his cheek. I can’t remember any other movie that features marijuana smoke rings coming at you in 3D… not to mention cocaine flying through the air at you.

Returning screenwriters Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg must have been under the influence of something when they put parts of the script together (the claymation sequence, especially), but other storylines show a clear head for spot-on comedy and sharp satire. The jokes fly at you like ping pong balls during the beer pong bit, along with a hefty amount of winks and nods; NPH’s real-life hubby has a killer cameo, and there’s, yes, a joke about Kumar getting a job at the White House. (Penn is currently an associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.)

When Guantanamo Bay went into production in 2007, it was initially scheduled to be a straight-to-DVD release; now the fellas are riding high (again, pun intended) with their third film. And if NPH is to be believed, we may very well see a fourth in a few years.

By then, maybe (hopefully?) the 3D craze will have gone up in smoke, and we won’t even have to worry about it anymore.

4/5 stars