196 – Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are a couple of college-educated smart dudes who also happen to love the wacky tobacky. But they’re not typical stoners, either; Harold is an investment banker, and Kuman is a medical whiz whose father is trying to get into med school. So although they’re lovable losers who just wanna get high, the boys aren’t complete slackers, either.

The movie deals with the duo’s journey one evening to White Castle and the various wild (and increasingly unlikely) events that befall them during their travels. Funny thing is, most people can probably relate to this, putting aside the drug portion of the program. You remember your college years, right? Didn’t you ever take a road trip somewhere, just on a whim? You could, back then. Sure, you’d think nothing more of trekking up to Niagara Falls, 14 hours away, for a weekend. You didn’t have responsibilities back then, so it was cool.

Anyway, when Harold and Kumar discover that the White Castle burger joint they thought was nearby has been gone for five years, they decide to drive 45 minutes to lovely, elite Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where the closest WC resides. Along the way, they stop off at Princeton University to try to score weed and hot babes, run into surf punk jerkos who harass them at every opportunity, take the police on a wild chase, get incarcerated, bust out of jail, and even meet Neil Patrick Harris, he of the long-gone Doogie Howser show.

All in one night.

It’s a justifiably ludicrous scenario, and yet its implausibility is what works so strongly for it. For crying out loud, they ride a cheetah! They hang glide! Just the anticipation of What Might Happen Next is enough to keep all but the most apathetic of viewers from giving a rat’s buttocks.

Through all the chaos, Harold and Kumar don’t always see eye to eye – just like in real life. Each fights the other from time to time, with blame for their current predicament being concentrated like rage in an anarchist. But though they’re bickering and sniping, we know that Harold and Kumar will be there for each other through it all and will – we fervently hope – survive the night to feast on White Castle hamburgers and fries.

There are a few reasons that this movie might not appeal to everyone. There are drug references. There’s nudity. There’s profanity. And there’s the fact that zillions of people have never even heard of White Castle, let alone had one of its famous (infamous?) burgers. White Castle burgers are known for their small size and affordability, making them favorites of college kids. Hey, you can buy a SACK of White Castle Sliders. How cool is that? A sack of burgers!

Cho and Penn are appealing as the titular duo, charming but not self-aggrandizing. Doubtless a lot of people watched the movie and said to themselves, “Dude! I know that guy!” And indeed I did. I knew a guy who’s a dead ringer for Kumar. Absolutely down to every fiber of his personality. So for me, the movie was pleasantly familiar.

Do Harold and Kumar make it to their Shangri-La, their Mecca, their holies of holy lands, White Castle? Well, maybe. But as perhaps they could tell you, it’s the puff that’s the most fun, not the exhaling.

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle: ***

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One Response to “196 – Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle”

  1. Frothy Ruminations » Blog Archive » 2008 Movies to Wait for Says:

    […] Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (April 25). Hey, it stands to reason that if you liked the first stoner-friends movie, you’ll go for this one as well. I mean, look, same cast; even Doogie Howser returns. […]

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