"Harold and Kumar Go to White
Directed by Danny Leiner.
Written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg.
Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Malin Akerman and Neil Patrick
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 7/31/04
When you first saw the trailer for "Harold
and Kumar Go to White Castle", did you say something to yourself
along the lines of
"Man, that's probably going to suck...but,
I'm gonna catch that one in theaters!"
Because, I (and many other men, I assume)
kept thinking how much I wanted to see this thing, even though I was
convinced it was going to suck.
I was half right. "Harold and Kumar Go
to White Castle", directed by the same guy that did
"Dude, Where's My Car?", is your standard-issue road movie.
Two twenty-something guys, Harold (John Cho,
Luck Tomorrow") and Kumar (Kal Penn), start off the night seeing
a commercial for White Castle's and spend the rest of the movie just
trying to get something to eat...but, almost every single thing goes
wrong as they try to get some Sliders before they can go home.
Along the way, there's weed, there's racism,
there's...Neil Patrick Harris. In the most random movie of the
year, you just fall in love with how crazy all of the haps are in
this flick, especially when it's "on." See, half of "Harold
and Kumar..." isn't that good, whether it be jokes that bomb, or a
sick-out sequence, or some bad acting by the leads. When it's
bad, it's not abysmal, but when you spend some time not laughing in
a film that only offers comedy, well, that's going to cost you.
But, when "Harold and Kumar..." is funny,
holy shit, this is some great stuff. As actors they might not
be great, but the chemistry between Cho and Penn is convincing.
Sometimes you'll be laughing just watching the two of them make
faces back at each other, and a great scene where a sing-along takes
place during a Wilson Phillips song works because these two are just
so hammy together. Plus, the script works in some great gags,
maybe none funnier than a dream sequence where Kumar thinks he's
married to a bag of weed...that scene alone justifies going to see
this film in theaters. By the time he is mock berating his bag
in the dream sequence, I was howling!
As you could tell from the preview,
race-related jokes are everywhere in "Harold and Kumar...", and most
of those work. Playing on the stereotypes of how "white"
America views Asian and Indian residents, it's no wonder that lines
like "Thank you, come again!" in an Indian-English accent make you
laugh like an idiot. There's a shot at the very end of the
film while the credits are rolling that helps seal the deal on all
of these stereotypes, and those kinds of gags work for me if I can
come in knowing that every race is going to be treating equally
badly during a film. (The black guy in jail...oh man, this
made me laugh out loud in this flick, especially the way the guy
handles getting a beatdown from the dirty New Jersey cops in the
It was a mixed experience. I don't
think I will watch "Harold and Kumar..." again, but if it comes on
HBO and I've got some time to burn, I'll wait around to watch that
shot again of the inevitable scene where the guys finally get to the
White Castle...whenever we used to go to Indianapolis as a kid, we'd
always do two things: 1) eat Long's Donuts, the best donuts in
America, and 2) eat at White Castle's. Damn, those little
burgers ARE the shit...
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard