Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies
By day, Harold Lee (John Cho) is a conscientious up-and-coming investment banker, the very model of sobriety. But of an evening, he falls under the influence of his party-hearty room-mate Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) - not to mention certain illegal narcotics - and then, well, anything could happen. In theory. Like, they might decide they need to go out for a burger...
It may not be the most noble of quests, but I guess if Luis Bu˝uel can make a surrealist classic about a dinner party that never happens (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), then it's good enough for stoners Harold and Kumar. In the original US title, they go to burger chain 'White Castle'. Either version spells out the extent of the plot.
Bringing together Danny Leiner, director of Dude, Where's My Car?, John Cho (from the American Pie flicks), and Kal Penn (Van Wilder), Harold and Kumar isn't all that far removed from those medical student comedies Dirk Bogarde used to make in the 1950s. The intoxicants have changed, and the gross out gags are grosser, but the message is the same: whatever intelligent young men in their early 20s have on the minds, in terms of significant organs the brain is way down the pecking order. (Not, in itself, an unintelligent observation.)
The movie's best asset is the personable teaming of Cho and Penn. It says something that you can make a mainstream comedy with Asian-American leads. Cheech and Chong were immigrants too, back in the day, but they didn't have the smarts of these guys. It's certainly striking that the movie - which is written by two white guys - pokes fun at Asian stereotypes, but it depicts white America as overwhelmingly knee-jerk racist. Needless to say, the sexual politics are nowhere near as progressive.
These things are always patchy, but H & K hits the spot more than most - the raccoon attack is always a surefire crowd pleaser, and as for the English girls' game of battle-shits - ugh, tell me it ain't so!
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