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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
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   Harold and Kumar  


Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Reviewed by 1. Soh Yun-Huei 2. Sinnerman

Director: Danny Leiner
Writing Credits: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Ethan Embry, Christopher Meloni
Genre: Comedy
Country: USA
Language: English
Year Released: 2004
Runtime: 88 min

1. Review by Soh Yun-Huei
Rating: *** (out of four stars)

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle should win the prize for Most Descriptive Movie Title of the year, because it is exactly what the movie is about. From the people that gave you Dude, Where’s My Car? (where there was but one good gag in the whole movie), Harold and Kumar is a much more accomplished effort, effortlessly bringing on the guffaws with three different approaches – poking fun at racial stereotypes, cracking stoner jokes, and indulging in juvenile and gross-out humour – truly something for everyone. Of course, it being rated M18 (and rightfully so) in Singapore means that the audience will be more limited, but in any case the demographic that director Danny Leiner is aiming for is skewed to an older crowd (that’s most of you reading this, if you’re still in denial).

In short, the movie is about Harold and Kumar going to White Castle. Longer version – the movie is about two stoner friends, Harold Lee (John Cho), a shy, bookish Korean-American investment banker, and Kumar Patel (Kal Penn), an Indian-American who is supposedly enrolling into med school, who develop the munchies whilst smoking pot, and a TV commercial causes them to set their sights on the sliders sold at White Castle (sliders refer to bite-sized hamburgers that technically can be eaten in the dozens). Kumar seems to remember that there’s a White Castle near where they live in New Jersey, but it’s been replaced by another fast food joint, and the next White Castle is quite a drive away. Hence, they embark on a journey toward White Castle, but along the way there are diversions – a brief trip to Princeton to look for pot, a run-in with an unreasonable and racist policeman, a freaky auto repairman aptly named Freakshow (Christopher Meloni), a bunch of young punks out to look for trouble, and even a horny Neil Patrick Harris (better known as Doogie Howser, MD). In short, it’s a trip to a fast food outlet like you’ve never seen before.

Harold and Kumar is essentially a road movie, although it may be a little more extreme than conventional ones – there’s copious drug use, some nudity, and a whole lot of politically incorrect humour floating around – a little more like American Pie meets Road Trip, than Leiner’s own Dude, Where’s My Car? And like most comedies, the humour comes hard and fast, and whilst not everything sticks, Harold and Kumar does have several very funny and memorable moments that redeem the unfunny parts (which is, as usual, the gross out humour involving flatulence, defecation, et al). And whilst the character portrayals aren’t exactly deep, the buddy-buddy chemistry that develops between Harold and Kumar feels rather authentic, and though the outcome was quite expected, the film had me rooting for the stoners all the way.

Make no mistake – Harold and Kumar is not a great movie, and neither is it on the evergreen (i.e. I can watch it many times and still manage to laugh – Scary Movie being one recent example) comedy list, but it comes mighty close, and is one of the better comedies that have been released this year. Also, it scores brownie points for touching a common chord that most people in their 20s and 30s will identify with (or at the very least recognize). I won’t spoil it for anyone, but it has to do with a particular retro song, and when it comes on I assure you that the desire to sing along will be far greater than you thought possible.

Final Word: Give it a shot – it will most likely amuse you far more than you think it would.


2. Review by Sinnerman

(Spoilers, however mild, permeate every inch of this post.)

I want that pot of Kimchee chicken!!!

Harold and Kumar took no prisoners. It lampoons every stereotype known to men. It has tits, chronic, and jokes this side of homophobic. It has burgers, chips, Amy Grant and Wilson Philips. It has horny Jews and "pulsating" Jesus freaks. Its EXTREME poseurs do a Meryl Streep and it's Ivy League brit chicks grunt out sonic batto-shits. Even my socks are completely charmed off by the dream/ fantasy sequences in this flick. Bar none, the goofiest delight of my year. And you know what, its smart too.

"I want that feeling" - Harold Lee

Me too.

This movie brims with the simple hopes of simple men. All we really need sometimes, is to simply get what we crave and desire, exactly the way we desire it. We are not lazy. To get what we want, we will summon our encoded tenacity. We won't mind going that extra length just to get it. Be it a burger, a movie with nudity, a compact disc, a chance to get high, a cool video game, or just a girl to touch our penises. A stoner comedy promises more profound truths than most pretentious crap I've seen all year. What more can I ask for?

It’s a complete shame then that this flick got shafted by the very people it is targeting - American fanboys (Let's not even talk about "batto-shits"....there's hardly a fart on Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle in Ain’t It Cool News, me think). Hell, this film speaks to fanboys the world over, regardless of nationality, race, language or religion. Picture this; The sinking of one's teeth into rich, succulent, oily-meaty burgers, coupled with the swallowing of hot, crispy, sinfully salty julienne potatoes, and then have them all washed down by huge comforting cups of aerated caramel soda? Now that, is universal.

I hence hope this group of fanboys (and enlightened fangirls) on sgfilm (film aficionadoes in Singapore) will buck the trend. Embrace this movie my good peeps, if not for its insightful sensibilities (on mid to late twenty-something boys), then for its supreme capacity to entertain. First and foremost, this stoner comedy delivers the laughs. Chockful of 'em. Sweeeet.

I shall leave you all with this now immortal line uttered by a fat, black, and very well hung brudda: "The universe tends to unfold, as it should." Nicely put, as it should....

Now go see this movie.
It’s really really good!!