Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

11 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Harold and Kumar go to White Castle” features two stoner minority characters named Harold and Kumar that do go to White Castle, but not without a bunch of misadventures along the way. This is an enjoyable comedy with two likable leads and funny situations.

Harold and Kumar are two roommates who smoke more pot than I think any other stoner duo could handle (hello, “Cheech and Chong”). Harold Lee (John Cho) is a hard-working, Korean-American accountant who is shy towards women. Kumar Patel (Kal Penn), an Indian-American slacker, is way more outgoing than Harold—he’s a party animal whose parents are in the medical profession, yet he knows a lot about medicine although he’d rather smoke pot all day. In his introduction, Kumar is interviewed by a dean of medical school (Fred Willard) and impresses him at first until he calls Harold and tells him his plan to be “blitzed out of their skulls tonight” right in front of the dean. That forces the dean to reject him.

So, Harold and Kumar are getting stoned one night and when they get the munchies, Kumar states that he wants the “perfect food.” That’s when a commercial for White Castle appears on the TV screen and hypnotizes them into a slider obsession. Kumar says there is a White Castle nearby, so they decide to drive there and eat. Unfortunately, the White Castle has been replaced by another burger joint. The guy at the drive-thru (Anthony Anderson) tells them that there is a White Castle about forty-five miles ahead.

So, the guys drive to get those sliders and along the way, they get involved in all sorts of adventures—they save a man’s life, wind up in jail by racist cops, encounter a mechanic with a really bad complexion, and come across a hitchhiking Neil Patrick Harris.

Neil Patrick Harris plays himself in this movie, and Harold and Kumar know him best from his “Doogie Howser” persona. There are some jokes about the show in this movie, particularly about asking if he had sex with “the hot nurse.” Harris is hilarious in this movie and way weirder than these guys. He wants sex, he wants to roam free, and he even steals Harold’s car. (“Did Doogie Howser just steal my car?” Harold asks.) He steals his car for a good reason too—so that when they meet again, Harold can ask, “Dude, where’s my car,” and reference the director Danny Leiner’s previous directorial effort, “Dude, Where’s my Car?”

HAROLD: Dude, where’s my car?

KUMAR: Where’s his car, dude?

While there are a lot of laughs in this movie, one particularly distasteful moment occurs when the boys arrive at Princeton and share a bathroom scene that is so disgusting that it makes you cringe. I was afraid of where the film was going after that scene. Also, there are a lot of racism jokes in this movie—a running gag keeps the boys running into American jerks who tease the boys’ backgrounds—and most of them are not that funny. Luckily, the movie redeems itself with the likability of these two characters, some big laughs that come unexpectedly, and a nice subtext that if you want something, you just have to go for it.

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