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Overall Rating
4

Awesome41.1%
Worth A Look: 32.88%
Average: 13.7%
Pretty Bad: 9.59%
Total Crap: 2.74%

8 reviews, 98 user ratings


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Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
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by Collin Souter

"Perfect summertime drive-in munchies"
4 stars

When you stop and think about it, “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle” can be a pretty frustrating movie. It doesn’t benefit from a particularly imaginative script. It stands guilty of perpetuating some stereotypes even though it satirizes others. It doesn’t have a single interesting female character while the male characters can be pretty sexist and crude. The movie exists as a commercial for a fast food chain and does nothing to depict the cons of eating at said establishment (if you’ve ever had a White Castle hangover, you know what I mean). The movie consists of more funny moments than it does funny situations. If you really want to enjoy this movie, it’s best not to stop and think about it.

Because, dammit, I did enjoy it. In spite of all it stands for, in spite of all its shortcomings as a comedy, in spite of its ambiguous stance on race relations in our country, I laughed quite a bit at this silly, deceptively moronic movie and I hold the two leads accountable. Announced in the trailer as “the Asian guy from the ‘American Pie’ films” and “that Indian guy from ‘Van Wilder’,” John Cho and Kal Penn, respectively as Harold and Kumar, make this excursion rather enjoyable. I’m sure if I watched this movie under the influence, I probably wouldn’t have had such a clear memory the next morning and I probably wouldn’t be putting much thought into it.

That is precisely how the filmmakers would prefer you ingest this film. It knows its audience and I find it pretty amusing that the studio held screenings of it at 10:30pm on a Friday night, knowing full well that stoners usually come down at that point in the evening and are craving something brainless to suit their altered states. I once worked at an independently run dollar house where we held midnight screenings of “Heavy Metal,” “Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke” and of course, “Rocky Horror.” Stoners often leave their basements to attend these screenings and the concession sales usually shoot through the roof. It’s a brilliant marketing plan and the movie probably won’t disappoint.

So, what’s it about? Two guys who get stoned, get hungry and decide to take a road trip to White Castle for some burgers, running into absurd obstacles along the way. There you have it. What kind of absurd obstacles, you ask? A vicious raccoon sneaking into the car, a religious nut who encourages the two stoners to have sex with his wife, extreme sports enthusiasts who harass a convenient store clerk and racist cops with nothing better to do than pick on these two for jaywalking. Oh, and Neil Patrick Harris.

Like I said, the situations themselves don’t come off as funny as Harold and Kumar’s reaction to them. For instance, when Harold and Kumar are trapped in a bathroom with two people who have a complete disregard for etiquette, the situation gets funnier just by seeing Cho’s reaction to it. Most of the movie plays out that way. When the movie fails, it does so because it tries too hard. The over-done make-up job on the Jesus freak mechanic ruins what might have been funny on its own had they not tried too hard to sell it.

But when it succeeds, it does so in part because the movie lets its absurd situations play out to their potential. A movie such as this should not be grounded in reality. It’s a movie made by stoners, about stoners and for stoners. Also, Cho and Penn make a great team and could probably make a sequel worth sitting through. Of course, the dynamic has been done to death (one’s uptight, the other a careless slob), but when done with the right actors and with the right attitude, the formula can still work even if the material is hit-and-miss.

Unlike “Soul Plane,” which only perpetuated stereotypes without saying anything intelligent about them, “Harold and Kumar” knows that the best way to comment on stereotypes is to aim the butt of the jokes at the ignoramuses who swear by them. My main problem with the movie concerns a scene in which Harold speaks to a room full of Asian college students, all of whom have a passion for investment banking. Since Harold does this for a living, they look at him like royalty. “Harold and Kumar” plays the stereotype card the right way throughout most of the film, but stumbles here. In this scene, we are made to laugh at these kids for being so stereotypical.

Later on, Kumar says that being a stereotypical Indian who works himself to death to be a doctor may not be so bad after all. So, why does being an investment banker lend itself to ridicule? Wouldn’t it have been funnier and more insightful if these college students felt as disillusioned as Harold? Wouldn’t it have been more interesting if they looked at him as a sell-out? The whole scene has a mean-spiritedness about it and a double standard that the movie could have risen above. Stereotypes don’t necessarily carry negative connotations with them. Often, they just represent laziness on the part of the writers. Other than this mis-step, “Harold and Kumar” strives not to be as lazy as the stoners who inhabit the rolling paper-thin storyline.

In the end, it provided more food for thought than I expected and although I found myself going back-and-forth with it, I couldn’t help but think back to how much I enjoyed it in the moment. I look at it as a perfect drive-in movie the same way I look at “The Fast and the Furious” as a perfect drive-in movie. It reminds me of those Horny Teen movies of the ‘80s that used to play as a double bill with Teen Slasher Films. This movie is lewd, raunchy and will likely spawn a sequel or two. It’s also fearless, well-acted and smarter than it lets on. Now that I think about it, I’m glad I still remember it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9598&reviewer=233
originally posted: 07/30/04 23:05:15
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2004 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/23/13 Jeff Wilder Amusing bits. But inconsistent. I like "Friday" a lot better. 2 stars
12/09/12 Simon a rare doesnt-give-a-sh*t movie with mixed relentless obvi gags and understated dialogue 5 stars
2/16/09 Samantha Pruitt very smart and fresh, watch if you want a great laugh! 5 stars
9/11/08 alastair white castle = FAIL !!!!! worse film than madonas 'swept away' 1 stars
7/24/08 Shaun Wallner Never laughed so hard in my Life!! 5 stars
7/19/08 Shaun Wallner Harold and Kumar are Hilarious!! 5 stars
7/01/08 Battleshit Contestant ...I'll tell you what...."we're not low"!!!!! Funny as all shit!!!! 5 stars
5/18/08 Jeff Anderson Very, very funny matched greatly by Cho & Penn's easygoing, hilarious & likable perfs! 5 stars
8/12/07 Dk Ashamed this only has a 3 star av. i tihnk it had the best comedy strips in it. even if it 5 stars
5/11/07 nate funniest part was the racoon bitting harold out of no where. 5 stars
3/30/07 fools♫gold I feel as if I'm underrating (I gave Orange County a 5/5), but it'sstillexceptionallycomic. 4 stars
2/07/07 AJ Muller No need to be high to laugh uncontrollably at this one - but it don't hurt, brethren. 5 stars
12/17/06 Jim Harold and Kumar weren't the only ones smoking weed! 4 stars
12/07/06 Jj da guy who reviewed dis must be ratarted!!! 3 stars? 5 stars
10/07/06 salvador it was the greatest movie in the whole world 5 stars
8/15/06 Ashley Hinz I really enjoyed it, but would not buy it. 4 stars
4/02/06 JRE soooo stupid, what's with the black dude and the weed? pretty funny though 2 stars
1/04/06 WISEMAN THIS IS AN AWEEESOME MOVIE!!!!!! 5 stars
12/01/05 michael g. this was an extremely funny movie!!! 5 stars
11/25/05 shaun wallner this movie was kewl i loved it 5 stars
11/12/05 ME GREAT MOVIE!!! Hilariously funny. 5 stars
10/31/05 anonymous asians are dumb and they eat our dogs. WHITE POWER. 1 stars
8/19/05 ES Aside from the really stupid Cheetah part a funny film 4 stars
8/18/05 sweetgrrl1972 I just about peed myself laughing. The domestic violence part was a buzzkill though. 5 stars
8/17/05 Yazid Best comedy movie ever!! Kal Penn and John Cho did a great job 5 stars
8/09/05 Maalstrom some funny, some not. 3 stars
8/05/05 matt r this movie is "F"ing hilarious. 5 stars
7/26/05 Bad Critic This movie really makes you crave White Castle. The giant bag of weed was hilarious! 4 stars
7/25/05 JFK great dope movie. If I were alive i surely consumed this shit 5 stars
7/20/05 Henry One of my favorite movies, finally some truly funny asian actors to hit america 5 stars
5/27/05 buddy funniest movie ever *nothing* is better! 5 stars
5/26/05 Richa It was hilarious. ne1 says otherwise doesnt noe the value of a stereotypical comedy movie. 5 stars
5/24/05 Minesh bad acting, little laughs, repetitive lines, very disappointed 2 stars
5/23/05 John Cena Totaly Tops 5 stars
4/20/05 Clubber Lang A Few funny scenes, but most of gags simply aren't funny, and the pace is way off 2 stars
4/06/05 Vince Decent stoner flick with a good bunch of laughs 3 stars
3/27/05 indrid cold It's just OK, but the sequence where he fantasizes about the pot bag is hilarious. 3 stars
2/20/05 lj delightfully brainless diversion 3 stars
2/19/05 Sharon Davis Odd, funny movie 4 stars
2/17/05 Carolyn Rathburn stupidly funny, how dense can people be. 3 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Mindless but funny. 3 stars
2/10/05 David Bennett Unlike anything else 4 stars
2/10/05 Daniel James A good movie, although it isn't funny all the time. 4 stars
2/02/05 Graves The rating says it all...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
2/02/05 Lynde Foy HUsband says its awesome--I beg to differ 2 stars
2/01/05 april gupton it was ok 3 stars
2/01/05 Edward Condon I went in knowing nothing and came out with a huge smile on my face, and not b/c of pot. 4 stars
2/01/05 Kenneth Hannan Waste. Of. Time. 1 stars
2/01/05 Robert Pfeifer The best stoner movie I've Seen Since Up In Smoke!! 4 stars
1/31/05 Dan Funny, dull at sometimes, but funny none the less. 4 stars
1/30/05 bongeezer Some funny bits surrounded by alot of non-funny bits. 2 stars
1/30/05 Caroline As s'one who's never been stoned, and obsessed with PC, it was so ironic that I adore it 5 stars
1/30/05 Fred Pellerito If you liked Dazed and Confused and movies of that genre, you'll love this movie. 4 stars
1/29/05 govenar pretty funny 5 stars
1/29/05 DONNA LONGWORTH SO STUPID ITS FUNNY! 4 stars
1/29/05 blueviolet A funny, weird, quirky, oddball, raunchy laughfest. 4 stars
1/26/05 NYYFAN Funniest movie of 2004 5 stars
1/17/05 Dan Some funny parts, but on the whole it was boring 2 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson BRILLIANT, SIMPLY BRILLIANT!! A REAL LAUGH FILLED TREAT AND I DON'T MEAN JUST THE BURGERS!! 5 stars
1/16/05 Jupe very very funny 5 stars
1/15/05 Devin Knox good 5 stars
11/14/04 Faith GREAT DAMN STONER FLICK 5 stars
10/25/04 hudson doesn't get much better 5 stars
9/17/04 Hilary Adamson Wow! If only I could shit as shamelessly as those giddy "diarrhea twins". What a life! 4 stars
9/16/04 Tiffany Thunderhurst Not quite as good as WHITE CHICKS, but similar farcical comedy. 4 stars
9/15/04 Robyn Jamil-Walid EricD, how did "horrific bathroom experience" (my favorite part) not trash it all for you? 4 stars
9/12/04 Noah THIS WAS THE FUNNIEST MOVIE I HAVE EVER SEEN 5 stars
9/03/04 Deepdish I collapsed on the cinema aisle and nearly choked on my popcorn and coke laughing 5 stars
8/25/04 Eric Sun The best movie to help asian guys with low self-esteem.Very funny! 5 stars
8/24/04 Ed fun fare 5 stars
8/21/04 L Wilson I took two friends, one woman 85 who doesn't love the F word, but they loved the movie 5 stars
8/16/04 Peter James Much better then I was expecting after seeing the trailer 4 stars
8/15/04 ben r funny as hell 5 stars
8/14/04 Obi Wan Very funny...about time the MILF kid got more screen time!! 5 stars
8/12/04 Jason Dow Totally funny . . .i was inspired 5 stars
8/12/04 kc about time the B class asian actors starred in their own movie, it was damn hilarious 5 stars
8/10/04 Darren Shea possibly the smartest stoner movie, ever. I want to see H&K Go To Amsterdam 5 stars
8/09/04 Dro If you Blitzed out or Jus CHillin watch this Movie! 5 stars
8/09/04 Kate Funniest movie I've seen since Super Troopers...made me crave some White Castle 5 stars
8/07/04 Gal Great stoner classic! 5 stars
8/06/04 nick2k i want sequel now...damn funny. bring anderson, harris, kennedy, & meloni along too! 5 stars
8/06/04 Terence This movie is by far the funniest movie so far this year 5 stars
8/05/04 Erik This movie was dope, a must see. I don't care who you are, you'll laugh your ass off. 5 stars
8/04/04 cbort hilarious 5 stars
8/03/04 KingNeutron Funny enough for non-stoners. 3 stars
8/03/04 carlos r guzman shitty but a must-see, penn and cho should do more films 2 stars
8/03/04 Jay I'm not a stoner, but I enjoyed this flick 4 stars
8/02/04 dredphul stupid but soo funny 4 stars
8/01/04 ajay there's a fine line between stupid and so stupid it's funny. This movie is the latter. 4 stars
8/01/04 Brad Pretty funny movie! 4 stars
7/31/04 Kumar Kicks ass awesome flick dude 5 stars
7/30/04 john akers harold and kumar is the funniest movie in a couple months 5 stars
7/29/04 Carter Davis Hilarious. Go see this movie. 5 stars
7/27/04 J.D. Semlow Very, very, funny most of the time. 4 stars
7/23/04 Mix Master Mason Everything you need to know about this turd is on the poster, way too PC for me... 1 stars
7/23/04 CM GREAT FILM! IT REMINDED ME OF COLLEGE AND MY BUDS! 5 stars
7/13/04 Ilene Jaffe Great film - smart and very funny 5 stars
6/22/04 Barry Simpson One of the Funniest Movies I've seen in a long time. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  30-Jul-2004 (R)
  DVD: 04-Jan-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  23-Sep-2004 (MA)




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