Written by Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg
Directed by Danny Leiner
Running Time: 2:07
for strong language, sexual content,
drug use and some crude humor.
Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle was one of the funnier movies I've seen in recent memory. While it may not have a lot of memorable lines, there are scenes that will play out in your head over and over again.
Harold is a frustrated investment banker who is the go-to guy when his co-workers want time off. Kumar is following his father's dream of becoming a doctor; although Kumar's immediate goals aren't necessarily the same. The two best friends really want nothing more from the weekend than to smoke a little pot and relax. But once that craving for those little burgers sets in, there's nothing anyone can do. Harold and Kumar hit the road for a trip to the grand palace of food known as White Castle. Along the way they meet an interesting, and at times scary, cast of characters, all in a quest to quench the munchies.
Let me first say I've known one of the stars, Kal Penn, for about 5 years. That however doesn't stop me from having an unbiased opinion on his movies, as he even noted when I reviewed Van Wilder a couple years back. That being said, I thought Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle was a completely whacked out and ridiculous movie, but one that had me rolling. The idea of a road trip movie has certainly been done before, and will be done again, but the casting of two minorities in lead roles in a search for a cult burger chain was genius. Instead of hitting the same comedy notes that most road trip films hit, casting a Korean and an Indian in starring roles allowed the writers to go down a side road and play off the situations that the casting opened up.
The two actors, who to my knowledge had never met before the movie started, act like best friends, and you can easily believe that they've known each other for years. Harold is the more studious and timid of the two, with Kumar being the more out-there guy, pushing his friend into situations he wouldn't normally get into. But no matter what happens to them, they remain strong friends, even going so far as to have Kumar break Harold out of prison. The 'serious' part of the story, because every comedy has a serious side, was probably Harold trying to ask out Maria, a girl who lives in his building. Otherwise, while the movie touches on serious subject matters, most noticebly racism, it does so in a comedic way so you never feel like you're being preached to. I also loved how the characters had a strong arc to their stories. Harold is a shy, timid guy, but by the end of the movie you can see, both physically and emotionally, how strong he has become. Kumar starts off a slacker, but through the various events he survives, he realizes that maybe being a doctor isn't so bad.
So now those hysterical scenes. My favorite scene in the movie has to be the one where Kumar has a dream sequence about being married to a massive bag of weed. To come up with that, the writers themselves must have been high, but it's taken to such an absurd level that by the end of the sequence, I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. There were other moments that had me dying, like the toilet sequence with the two hot Brit girls, and my favorite cameo (I won't say by whom) that involved Kumar taking a leak in the woods. Again, the scene was just taken to a level that I couldn't stop laughing. The entire movie is built that way; they take a situation that you could easily see happen, then just build and build on it, adding layer upon layer of ridiculousness, until it hits a peak and you explode... in laughter.
One cameo I can give away is Neil Patrick Harris, playing, Neil Patrick Harris. Thankfully, he didn't have to audition for the role. Neil plays a drugged out version of himself, lost on the side of a road after a party gone bad. He hitches a ride from the guys and wants nothing more than some more drugs and to see some strippers. Seeing the former Doogie Howser playing a guy who is completely out of his mind was funny in itself. But the nice thing was, instead of playing on the single joke of having Neil Patrick Harris out in the middle of nowhere, high on anything he could get his hands on, they went even further and kept the 'character' funny throughout, having him reappear throughout the film. Then there are at least half a dozen other recognizable faces that pop up during the movie in roles ranging from male nurse to burger flipper. The great thing about the cameos is that you know the faces so you're happy to see them, then instead of resting on their laurels, they go out and do something funny to make you even happier. And that's not even mentioning the totally unrecognizable Chris Meloni as the pus-faced Freakshow. I saw his name in the opening credits but had no idea what character he was until the end.
There were some problems with the movie that kept it from being truly great. One, the road trip took place in New Jersey, and people with even a passing knowledge of the state would know that the time it takes them to get from one place to another is impossible. There's also one glaring mistake towards the end of the movie. They're standing on the edge of a cliff, with White Castle in sight, and it's pitch black out. Literally 2 minutes later the sun has risen and it's totally bright out. And while I applaud the writers ability to take a common situation and play it out for more laughter than you'd imagine, a lot of the movie was basically toilet and drug humor. Not that I have a problem with that, but there could have been a bit more to the film to fill it out completely.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle has some minor mistakes, and isn't as well-rounded as it could have been, but in the end, it's a lot of fun and guaranteed to make you laugh.