Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

Harold-and-Kumar_400I rarely, and I mean rarely ever give modern comedies glowing reviews, because most of the time, comedies really suck, they suck like Paris Hilton on prom night, and then I saw “Harold & Kumar”. I’ll admit, I expected this to be really bad, I was dreading watching this, and I just expected it to be as bad as “Dude, Where’s My Car?”, but when I was finished with this movie, I didn’t hate it. As a matter of fact, I loved it. You may not know it by the trailers but this is a rather intelligent comedy, and as much as it tries not to be, it’s an original comedy. Harold and Kumar are a lot like Beavis and Butthead, except smart, like Cheech and Chong sans the hippy lingo, and our two spotlight characters are stoners who happen to be rather intelligent educated people who really just smoke pot to relax after the pressures of life take hold.

Harold is an inconspicuous junior analyst being taken advantage of by his superiors, and has a bad crush on his beautiful neighbor Maria (the drop dead beyond sexy Paula Garcés) , while his best friend and room mate Kumar is under pressure by his traditional father to become a doctor against his will. After a long night of getting high, they crave something to feed their appetite, and they crave “White Castle”, and as you’d expect they experience all sorts of hijinks, hilarity, and oddball characters, all of which are laugh out loud funny. Kal Penn and John Cho as Harold and Kumar are two of the funniest characters ever created, and they act as two characters that are funny without resorting to racial stereotypes, are smart without being boring, and are goofy and stupid without ever losing their dignity. Cho and Pen, very underrated and talented actors have excellent chemistry together and handle the comedic timing and witty one-liners very easily.

Usually films like these just turn me off, but this is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a while. Writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg write a comedy that is both very funny and involving with characters that we really do get to relate to on many levels. Harold and Kumar represent two classes of people whom have gone basically unnoticed despite their hard work and seek small self-satisfaction that is actually within their grasps but manage to face even more obstacles. Though the plot and concept sounds deep, there is nothing but fun within the film that will please fans of comedy and stoner comedies. The witty, clever dialogue and rapid fire one-liners will bring you to tears as it did me, while the usual toilet humor is played rather well with enough moderation, and many of the running gags really sell the film, like how Kumar only seems to appeal to men, and the duo’s “extreme” racist taunters.

Meanwhile the film manages to be completely ridiculous and absurd in just the right moments with fantasy sequences, and weird characters that come along at just the right time and the script plays it along very well with enough absurdist humor to make anyone laugh and the running gags come from all directions that it’s basically laugh out loud funny. I could not stop laughing during this film, and it is just pure comedy at its best. Comedy that doesn’t make you feel guilty, comedy handled by two of the funniest actors who don’t play their characters for comedy. Harold is the dignified uptight enraged counterpart to Kumar’s cooler, looser, and more ballsy Kumar. The two are naturally very likable and are easily people you’d want to hang out with be you a jock or an outcast like them. Deep down, beneath the gags and laugh out loud comedy, anyone who is adept to themes will suddenly notice that underneath everything there is a real message to this.

The film so boldly jabs at, and tackles racial stereotypes fearlessly, and though the racial commentary is played with comedy, it’s rather well done and very insightful. From the climax where Harold confronts a racial issue, you see that this is really just a racial/moral statement disguised as a stoner comedy, and from the last scene the writer has pretty much made clear what his intentions were to this film that will make many gasp and others catch on to what this movie was all about after all, and in the process that makes this all the better of a comedy when it tackles social, and racial issues without ever becoming preachy, and for that I can not give the people behind this enough credit. So, yeah, sure, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t notice.

Come on, the entire movie is really nothing but a ninety minute commercial for White Castle, or as I like to call them “Diarrhea Burgers”. It’s so utterly transparent and there’s never been such an obvious product placement in the history of movies I’ve seen. Plus the movie is at times very derivative, from the hot girl having a violent shit gag which is so played out, the freakish weird character who pops up conveniently, the inevitable fight with the violent animal, and the dreamy sequences that were just not funny and completely unnecessary. Amazing how Danny Leiner director of (Ugh) “Dude, where’s my Car?” can perform a complete turn around this very enlightening, refreshing stoner comedy that is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a years.