Neil Patrick Harris
Eddie Kaye Thomas
Release: 30 Jul. 04
|Harold & Kumar Go to White
BY: DAVID PERRY
Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson):
“You know if you smoke too
much [marijuana] that shit is going to rob you of
Melanie (Bridget Fonda): “Not if your ambition is
to get high
and watch TV.”
Although the White Castle chain only exists in certain regions of the
country, its satisfyingly aromatic and tasty burgers are a thing of lore
throughout the country (even in places settling with its counterpart Krystal).
No where else can one predict uninterested service with tiny helpings to
satiate the needs of someone drunk or high at the wee hours of the morning.
Even when Taco Bell and Wendy’s try their own late-night hours, the title of
Official Munchies Fast Food is forever connected to the place where most
people would never go sober.
That seems to be the main catalyst for Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, a
film that lionizes the chain much like most of the population under the
influence. Its title characters are, as one might suppose, proudly part of
that population, celebrating their dead-end lives in Hoboken with pot. They
are the male reincarnations of Bridget Fonda’s Melanie.
Most will likely compare these two to Cheech and Chong, though that
comparison is short of acknowledging that there’s a charm and likeability to
these two Asian Americans and their attempts to overthrow the stereotypes
that have followed them (the film also includes some racist cops and a gang
of extreme sportsmen to make Harold and Kumar’s life harder). Unlike C & C,
H & K don’t seem like complete slackers whose inclination is to smoke
without any recognition of the life they lead during the day. They each have
obligations that keep them busy, all the more reason that these high times
are so cherished.
Directed by Danny Leiner, the work is a bit unctuous at times, but the two
leads quickly bring it all back together. Their satisfaction with their own
minor achievement is believable, and the way they play off each other is
especially engaging. Although both actors have a long standing history of
being minor parts in forgettable comedies (the ad campaign’s best joke is
foregoing their names for “that Korean guy from American Pie” and “that
Indian guy from Van Wilder”), their timing is wonderful, even when some of
the jokes ultimately fall flat (a long prepared scene between an ugly
bumpkin and his sexy wife is especially a waste of time). Unlike Leiner’s
previous film Dude, Where My Car? and the very burgers these characters are
chasing down, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is subtle and acceptable
to the palette even when sober.