Its easy to dismiss Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle as a dumb, stoner movie filled with stereotypical characters, but, if you look below the surface, the film makes some interesting observations about racism, friendship, and how its OK to secretly love old-school Amy Grant.
Most importantly, Harold and Kumar, by the director who brought you Dude, Wheres My Car, is a damn funny flick. It acknowledges some ethnic stereotypes and debunks others, surprising the viewer at every turn with ridiculous, screwball adventures.
Harold and Kumar are an Asian odd couple who bond over smoking pot. Harold Lee (John Cho) works at a thankless office job where he gets pushed around by frat boy type white guys. They get him to do their work and tell each other that Asian guys love to do math, so its OK. Harolds other frustration in life is that he cant build up the courage to talk to the object of his affection, Maria, a beautiful woman who lives in his apartment complex.
Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) is brilliant, but he has no desire to go to medical school like his father wants him to. However, Kumar agrees to apply to med schools so that Dr. Patel will continue paying his rent. Kumars interview with a dean at Princeton who is a friend of his fathers is one of the films many highlights.
Although hes generally a dedicated employee, one night Harold gives in to his roommate Kumars pressure and decides to smoke a lot of pot instead of working on a project for his office. As they watch Sixteen Candles, Harold and Kumar, predictably, get the munchies. They are enthralled by one of those late-night fast food commercials thats made for stoners and decide that they need to drive to White Castle for some burgers. Convinced that they know where one is on the New Jersey Turnpike, the two friends set off to satisfy their hunger. As Im sure youve guessed, finding White Castle is not as easy as the boys had anticipated.
A fun subplot is that Harold and Kumars Jewish neighbors Goldstein (David Krumholtz) and Rosenberg (Eddie Kaye Thomas, American Pie), after smoking from a shofar, a brilliant detail, decide to grab some kosher franks at Hot Dog Heaven. I wished that Goldstein and Rosenberg had been in the movie more since I preferred their characters to the people Harold and Kumar encounter on their journey. One of them, a guy called Freak Show (Christopher Meloni), was so disgusting-looking that I had to close my eyes. Its a good thing I didnt watch this film whilst stoned or I might have had nightmares from the Freak Show scenes.
The other problem I had with Harold and Kumar is that theres a bit too much low-brow, toilet humor. The DVD includes a fake documentary on how the filmmakers captured the diarrhea sound effects. My friends and I found it impossible to watch this special feature in its entirety.
The most stoner-ish part of the movie is an entertaining dream/reality sequence riding on a cheetah. It reminded me of a Santana album cover come alive. Neil Patrick Harris playing himself is most peoples very favorite part, however. Youll gain newfound respect for the former child star.
Harold and Kumar has an incredible soundtrack that includes Camel Toe by FannyPack and the best use of Hearts* Crazy on You since The Virgin Suicides.
My friends and I rented the unrated version, which you should do if you are interested in seeing a lot of breasts. Im not sure how the R-rated version compares in terms of boobage, but this one sure has its share.
For a drugged-out, buddy movie with essentially no plot, Harold and Kumar is quite entertaining, especially if you start with low expectations. You dont have to be a stoner to enjoy Harold and Kumar, but stay away if youre a prude or a snob. It may be art about getting high, but its certainly not high art.
* Im currently going through a minor Heart obsession thanks to Carries incredible rendition of "Alone" on this weeks American Idol.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age
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