HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE
Harold (John Cho) is a young Korean American with office work to catch up on. Kumar (Kal Penn) is a young Indian American, who has an interview for med school to attend in the morning. And these two flatmates both have a bad case of the munchies. Not just any munchies but a desperate desire for White Castle hamburgers. When they discover that the only White Castle joint in town has closed, they decide it's worth driving any distance to sate their fast-food fixation. As long as they have plenty of weed to smoke on the way of course.
Review by Brad Green:
Even goofball comedy works best when it displays a heart around which wackiness can pulsate. This latest effort from director Danny Leiner, who ventured down the highway of jejune humour with Dude Where's My Car, sets off as if to tour the gag lands and arrive at a sweet resolution. Then a copy of Postmodern Screwball Scripting drops into the laps of the screenwriters and the film veers off course and crashes on all counts.
Early in the piece, Harold, a young Korean American, waits for the elevator in his apartment block. Alongside him is an attractive brunette with whom he exchanges the coy glances of co-residents who have never spoken. We are already endeared to Harold. We have seen that he is unprepossessing and diligent at work, but no nerdy Asian stereotype; and we're cheering for him as the lift arrives and he says to himself: OK take your chance this time. And then, yes, he chats her up. Perfectly; all quiet charm; and she agrees to come over to his apartment that night. Then the elevator doors open, they both step out, and his daydream ends.
Hardly original, yet a promising set up. Harold and flatmate, Kumar, played with winning zaniness by Kal Penn, can now head off on a road trip of lust and laughs as we ponder how Harold will eventually end up in the arms of the nice girl back in the apartment. While the plot does follow this arc, the writers get too cute and diffuse the comic potential of Penn's controlled hamming. Attacked by a bout of the munchies, the flatmates discard the conventional lecherous quests in favour of a mission for Michelin-standard fast food. Getting stoned and attempting to get laid become mere detours, excuses for the film to show its self-awareness by creating a cast comprising racial stereotypes-with-a-twist and a narrative that distorts cult movie cliches into episodes of our high heroes' odyssey. Sadly, no amount of fancy garnishing can make up for a lack of meaty laughs.
Finally, back at the apartment, Harold takes another ride in the elevator with the brunette. It turns out to be as romantic as a loud burp after an overdose of hamburgers. More unfortunate though is the fact that every time the film attempts to raise a laugh, it remains stuck firmly on the ground floor.
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HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE (M)
CAST: John Cho, Kal Penn, Malin Akerman, Anthony Anderson, Boyd Banks, Dan Bochart, Steve Braun, Steven DiTata
PRODUCER: Nathan Kahane, Greg Shapiro
DIRECTOR: Danny Leiner
SCRIPT: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bruce Douglas Johnson
EDITOR: Jeff Betancourt
MUSIC: David Kitay
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Steve Rosenzweig
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutees
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 23, 2004