alibi online
Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 V.13 No.31 | July 29 - August 4, 2004 

Film Review

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

Cho and Penn spread the racially sensitive message, “Can’t we all just get along ... and get stoned?”

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

Directed by Steve Leiner

Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn

A movie succeeds or fails based on its own merits. If a film is trying to be a dumb movie, and it undoubtedly is (like, say, Airplane), then it must be deemed a success. If a film is trying its damnedest to gross you out, and it's succeeding (There's Something About Mary, for example), then it is—for lack of a better word—a “good” movie. Given this argument, we can't simply dismiss a film like Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Yes, it looks rude, crude and incredibly juvenile—but it's trying really hard to be rude, crude and incredibly juvenile. And in this respect, it is a rousing success.

The film comes to us courtesy of director Steve Leiner, who—after years on the sitcom circuit—burst into feature films with the unapologetically idiotic Dude, Where's My Car? His newest outing follows more or less the same roadmap: Two stoner dorks engage in an epic quest to accomplish some simple task. In Dude, Jesse and Chester (Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) woke up after a night of hard partying and tried to figure out where they had parked their car. In H&K, the titular duo (John Cho and Kal Penn) get wicked stoned and decide to go out for White Castle hamburgers. That's about it for plot, folks. The rest of the brief runtime is eaten up by the string of wacky encounters that befall our hemp-loving heroes on the road to fast food satisfaction.

Film history is filled with “dummy duos”—from Abbot and Costello to Cheech and Chong to Bill and Ted to Beavis and Butthead. Our titular toke-takers certainly follow in this grand tradition with a couple vaguely interesting twists. The ethnic angle (Harold is Korean, Kumar is Indian) lends a little diversity and allows for a few self-mocking jokes about racial stereotypes. Also interesting is the fact that, aside from their stoner obsession, Harold and Kumar are actually quite intelligent. Harold is an uptight investment banker regularly exploited by his contemptible co-workers, while Kumar is a jaded med school student who'd rather mooch off his father than hit the books. Cho (from American Pie, Better Luck Tomorrow) and Penn (Van Wilder, Malibu's Most Wanted) are appealing young actors and do what they can to make their characters more endearing than annoying.

When it's spinning off in its own crazy universe, Harold & Kumar has flashes of clever amusement—which only makes it all the more depressing when the film spends most of its time peddling the same old rude 'n' crude jokes. Comic lowlights include the now standard-issue bathroom stall-set “poop and fart” noise montage and a bunch of marijuana jokes that were funnier 30 years ago when Cheech and Chong made them.

As dumb-ass, dope-smoking comedies go, Harold and Kumar is more or less successful. It features a couple partially appealing, partially intelligent main characters. It's got a few good messages. (Although “just say no” is not one of them.) And it will certainly spark the interest of teenage stoners who've worn out their DVD copies of Dude, Where's My Car? and are now desperately searching for another fix of sex, drug and poop jokes.


Trash at National Hispanic Cultural Center


After three boys picking trash in the slums of Rio de Janeiro find a wallet in the daily detritus of their local dump, they little imagine that their lives are about to change forever.


Trolleywood at Albuquerque Museum of Art and History


New Mexico Labor Film Festival at Center for Progress and Justice

More Recommended Events ››

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.