Movie Name: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Studio: Senator International
Release Date(s): July 30, 2004
MPAA Rating: R
Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) is a promising med student with little ambition, and Harold Lee (John Cho) is a rising in the business world. Both Harold and Kumar are stoners and enjoy smoking a little weed to blow off steam. After lighting up, Harold and Kumar decide the only thing that can stop the munchies is White Castle…and they’ll go to any lengths to get it. Unfortunately, White Castle isn’t as easy to find as they thought…they’ll battle racism, extreme punks, nature, and Neil Patrick Harris to meet their goal: a delicious White Castle burger!
Directed by Danny Leiner, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is a stoner comedy. The movie was surprisingly well received by critics and received a modest box office return. It has developed a cult following over the years.
Stoner comedies are usually pretty base. They go for the easy fart and “I’m so high” jokes. They also aren’t usually that funny to people who don’t partake in the “wacky weed” and often are only funny to those who are stoned at the time. Harold & Kumar actually breaks a lot of those rules.
There is a lot of interesting stuff going on in the film (but the movie does make sure to get the stereotypical “I’m so high” jokes in as well). I think the film’s strength comes from the decision to take two social “outsiders” by American standards. Both Harold and Kumar are American but first generation and face pressure from parents and society for what they should be…and scoff at it. A lot of the jokes are race based, but they are smartly done to show a very knowing look at racism.
Kal Penn and John Cho were generally supporting actors in movies before this and it is nice to see two diverse leads. Neil Patrick Harris really boosted his career and steals the show as himself on a bender. There are lots of cameos in the film including Eddie Kaye Thomas, David Krumholtz, Christopher Meloni (Freakshow), Ryan Reynolds, Fred Willard, Ethan Embry, Jamie Kennedy, and Anthony Anderson.
The movie I think is best when it is “real”. I finds parts like riding the cheetah and flying on the hangglider a bit tedious (both story and visuals). I would be ok with these scenes is they were just from being stoned, but you must suspend a lot of realism for big chunks of the movie because of the visuals.
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is a funny film that remains funny over a decade later…it is a new Cheech and Chong. The movie was successful enough to spawn a sequel in Harold & Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay and a holiday film in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas in 2011.