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Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle
Posted to Movies at 05:43 PM on Aug 7, 2005

2004. New Line Cinema. Directed by Danny Leiner. Starring Kal Penn, John Cho, Paula Garces and Neil Patrick Harris

Harold and Kumar is a rare bird. It employs myriad gross and offensive jokes, but is so bland and mediocre that even the nastiest moments are yawn-inducing.

John Cho and Kal Penn play roommates Harold and Kumar. Harold is a Chinese-American computer something-or-other-er; Kumar is an Indian-American who is being pressured by his doctor dad to get into medical school. In the course of a typical day, Harold and Kumar run into a lot of crap from ignorant white people. Sometimes they go home and smoke some grass. Like most pot smokers, they get the munchies and on one memorable night, they elect to go to White Castle.

I'm the first to admit that druggie movies are not my thing. I don't understand the humor and I mostly think they're unremarkable. So I didn't have a real open mind when I popped this in the DVD player. And I wasn't disappointed.

The film tries hard to be angsty and thoughtful about racism and the plight of Asians in America, but among all the drug jokes, it just doesn't work. We see Harold and Kumar making asses of themselves and we (or, I) really don't care what's going on in their lives. A movie about stoners would have been fine; a movie about stoners who have problems is a downer. The talk about all their struggles feels like an afterthought.

It's as if this movie was made by a drunk on a dare who went back and felt guilty and threw in a bunch of other stuff to balance out the stupidity. There's just so much dumb stuff. And trust me, I like dumb stuff. But this movie's dumb stuff is just boring. Scenes like Harold and Kumar's encounter with a grotesque trucker are made insipid and pointless by the plodding pace and cliched situations. It's just one silly and uninspired scenario after another for ninety minutes.

Both Cho and Penn manage to look bored about three quarters of the way through the movie. If they looked like they were having fun, we might have more fun watching, but the "are we really saying this dialogue" look is all over their faces. They look like amateurs.


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