Movie Reviews
12:48 pm
Fri July 30, 2004

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

If stoner comedy has a place in the satire canon, this is one of the best.

If two chicks sitting in stalls playing "Battleshits" while the two Indian and Asian "heroes" hide between them suffering the sounds and smells of scatological low humor may be funny to you, then you should consider seeing "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle." My last stoner movie, the remake of "Starsky and Hutch," was indeed Sunday school by contrast.

Director Danny Leiner ("Dude, Where's My Car?") has taken this genre and made a classic, not just because it exploits every possible ethnic stereotype with zeal equaled only by "Bad Santa's" decimating the Christmas formula. "Castle" has such fun imitating the roguish good will of the Hope/Crosby road pictures while commenting on the egregious weaknesses of parents and police that almost anyone who doesn't mind a breast or two bared in the name of satire can laugh heartily at modern adult pretensions and youthful indiscretion.

Harold and Kumar are trying to find an all-night White Castle after experiencing the sudden yearning that afflicts almost anyone who has had a "slider" burger. Like that little square of fat and calories, the pot and girls are just too good not to indulge now and then. The two early twenties students, one a serious financial analyst and the other a lazy pre-med genius, are like Hope and Crosby in their witty repartee and canny ability to escape harm. Being delivered from the wrath of seriously deformed "Freak Show" and his siren wife doesn't deter them from considering the affections of the battling babes or idolizing Neil Patrick Harris in a cameo playing himself as a lethal womanizer.

More serious is the multicultural subtext about stereotyping (Asians are nerdy number crunchers and Indians are overachieving medical doctors, for instance) overturned by, for instance, morphing a seemingly "Joy Luck" club gathering into a raunchy party or exposing a gang of mouthy skinheads as "girliemen." It's all pop-cult fun at our own expense, something akin to actually enjoying the articles in "Playboy" even if they weren't our reason for buying the mags.

My grandson Cody and I bonded once again, this time just laughing at the silliness, enjoying the satire, and figuring how we could get his dad to allow his young brother to see it, despite the lurid spots that give spice and lend naughtiness to our increasingly dangerous lives.

If stoner comedy has a place in the satire canon, this is one of the best.