Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Review by Diana, MaceVindaloo, VagBoy
Writers: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Starring: John Cho, Kal Penn, Eddie Kaye Thomas, David Krumholtz, Paul Garcés, Neil Patrick Harris
Rating: Victory Star Destroyer (packs a wallop!)
This movie was severely shafted by whatever marketing department put the poster and publicity together. It looks so lame just look at that poster! You might recognize the "MILF guy" from American Pie on the left, but is this an ad for a burger joint? Really, a rated-R movie? White Castle did issue "Harold and Kumar" cups during the release of the film in all its stores ... but that wasn't enough to make the crowds think this was more than a dumb "Asian ethinifilm."
I'm not sure why one of us decided that it would be a decent flick, but that person had to force the others writing this review to get the DVD. But once the movie started, it was very hard not to keep watching it. The basics: two roommates have a bad Friday, one because he gets weekend overnight number-crunching homework dumped on him by those with window offices, and the other has been rejected by another high-flying medical school despite his great scores and raw talent because he reveals himself to be a stoner-slacker. Their solution is to get high, then go after White Castle burgers to still their munchie cravings. However, White Castle is thought to be a few towns over, but it's not ... it's even further down New Jersey, through small towns, hospitals, fields, lonely backroads, other fast food joints, Princeton University dorms, police stations, over cliffs, freaky private homes, hang-gliding, parking lots ...
It sounds lame, doesn't it? There doesn't seem to be a way to describe how really hilarious and clever this movie is. So maybe it's not the marketing people's fault after all. It's just rather different from what you expect in that it's actually a great and fun movie.
The American Pie MILF guy is not the MILF guy here. He's a nerdy, newly graduated junior analyst at a big financial firm, and he can't stand hanging around those dorky college Asian clubs, which seem to keep hounding him simply because he's Korean and a junior analyst at a big financial firm. He reminds us of people we know and grew up with. Kumar, the Hindi guy, is a talented medical student type, but is running away from his destiny. His father, Dr. Patel, knows better and keeps hounding him simply because he's a talented Indian doctor-to-be. Hey, we've all done this ... We all know people like this, regardless of their actual ethnicity. In fact, while watching this, it's easy to be absorbed into it and forget they are Korean- and Indian-Americans. There but for the grace of our respective Gods go we!
But more to the point, the movie is very well made, well edited, well written, really well acted. There isn't a slow or dull moment anywhere and there will be at least one scene that will have you hyperventilating with laughter, nearly as much as the first time you saw Blazing Saddles and saw the cowboys eating beans around the campfire, but couldn't ever watch it all the way through because you were laughing too damned hard. (You know what we mean.) The two leads, John Cho and Kal Penn, have an unusual and rather geniune chemistry and you know they are heterosexual lifemates (like that other wondrous pairing, Jay and Silent Bob; coincidentally, they are also from New Jersey). The jokes and timing between them works really well.
There is a love interest for Harold, a Latina named Maria (referred to as "Maria Quesa Dilla" in a politically incorrect dream sequence, indicating how little he really knows about the girl of his dreams). He's such a dorkjerk that he ends up doing mean things to Maria because she freaks him out so much. He's dying to talk to her, invite her over, ANYTHING ... but he ends of slamming doors on her, not helping her with her luggage, running away, causing a car accident because he simply cannot deal with her. And he's clueless that she is interested in him, duh. That's a source of much mirth, too.
Yeah, there are juvenile homoerotic jokes, gross body functions, dick and wounds jokes, drug stoner humor, really blatant portrayals of white people stereotypes, but it all works, we swear! None of it is offensive unless you're the type who likes to be offended, in which case you'd enjoy the movie, too. It's rated R, so if you get offended, it's all you, sorry.
This film didn't make a big splash in theaters (no big surprise) but we noticed that a display at Walmart was cleaned out of the DVD. Unlike other mainstream DVDs, the characters talk to you if you don't make a selection on the opening screen, and get more annoyed and petulant the longer you take to not make a decision. For some reason, that approach made a couple of us laugh really hard. There is an interview of the stars by Bobby Lee (who played mega Asian Princeton dork Kenneth Cho, class of 2004) in his SUV, deleted scenes, Rosenberg and Goldstein skanking (Eddie Kay Thomas gets down while dressed as Hassidim, complete with pellas), extended clips (Kumar's fantasy life with a big bag of pot, and later a cop's fantasy future with the same whoring bag of pot), etc. Not sure how the DVD's so-called "unrated version" of the film shows up next to the one released in theaters, but there's nothing terrible (and the naked boobs exposes are superlative samples, from huge enhanced stripper jugs to petit. The small ones were on a white girl, by the way ... as were the big ones ...)
By the way, Neil Patrick Harris shows up as "himself" in this film. It may seem like a gratuitous thing, but his entry, exit and entry again are actually kind of critical to the story. It was cool. And by the end of the movie, everyone (both good and bad) gets what's coming to them ("the universe unfolds as it should"), and our heros are heros, in the common man sense. Yeah, sounds like A New Hope, doesn't it? But this is funnier! We think it's destined to be a classic.
Now excuse us ... we've been hyperventilating so hard that we're lightheaded, and we have to watch it again to catch what we missed during the screaming laughter!
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