> Volume 6 > Number 28


Danny Leiner

John Cho
Kal Penn
Paula Garcès
Neil Patrick Harris
David Krumholtz
Eddie Kaye Thomas

Release: 30 Jul. 04

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle


      Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson): “You know if you smoke too
      much [marijuana] that shit is going to rob you of your

      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

©2004, David Perry,, 9 July 2004