Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle


How to review this film? Through the eyes of a teenage stoner? In the tradition of Road Trip? Whichever way I look at it, Harold & Kumar fails to shine, but has some great moments.

Harold & KumarThe premise? Two guys get the munchies after getting high, and decide, thanks to some wonderful tv advertising, that White Castle burgers are the only thing that can hit the spot. Frivolity and mayhem ensue. It’s not so much that the plot is tired, or that the ‘mayhem’ has all been done before. It’s the way this film takes itself so seriously – who’d have thought they were really exploring race relations and self empowerment? Reading some reviews, you might be forgiven for thinking this is Citizen Kane, the reviewers keep going on and on about how this is changing the genre, has a hidden depth, blah blah blah.

It’s immature, clunky and probably the best bit of groundbreaking social commentary we’ve seen in years.
Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune.

Give me a break! Sure there are times you want these guys to succeed, but they’re only going for burgers for chrissakes! Yes, you want Harold to get the girl, but if he doesn’t he’ll surely get another one. And the victory against the racist world? Right… Get over it. This is no more groundbreaking than it is well-scripted or acted.

Harold and Kumar are played by the MILF guy from American Pie and the trainee to Van – Taj Mahal Badalandabad – in Van Wilder: Party Liason, so you know these guys are quality. They do have a certain charm and chemistry, and given the entire film revolves around their performances, they didn’t do half bad. Cameos? Neil Patrick Harris – Doogie Howser, M.D. – plays himself. Ryan Reynolds makes a brief appearance, a nice nod to Penn’s role in Van Wilder. Jamie Kennedy is here too.

Were it not so interested in exploring the protagonists’ reactions to the racism inherent in American society, or their eventual revelations of what and who they want to be, this may have produced some fun laughs. With this focus however, the film feels way too self-important for what is essentially a fun piece of fluff. I’m not sure why the director of Dude, Where’s My Car? suddenly wanted to make social comment, but there you go.

Harold & Kumar is fun at times – there are some golden moments (like the singalong to Wilson Phillips’ ‘Hold On’ in the car!) – and one is left feeling warm and fuzzy as the heroes come out on top. But that bubbling sound you hear is not new ground being broken, it’s a bong.

Rating: 2.5 stars
Review by Mark Lavercombe, 1st January 1970
Hoopla Factor: 2.5 stars

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