Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Stoner Comedy, Buddy Film, Road Movie  |   Release Date - Jul 30, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - Canada, Germany, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Karl Williams

Rollicking good fun, persuasive in its joyful high spirits even during the slow, dumb bits, and even sometimes hilarious, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) is another cult classic from Danny Leiner, the director of Dude, Where's My Car? (2000). As in that previous film, the yuks hinge on a simple premise: two mismatched buddies on a mundane quest. Granted, a search for addictive square mini-burgers is not exactly the quest for the grail, but it's where the film goes and how it gets there that distinguishes it from just another pea-brained teen sex romp. Over the course of an evening, the heroes (dryly played by John Cho and Kal Penn) escape from prison, have their car stolen by Neil Patrick Harris, who plays himself, and ride a cheetah (you read that correctly). They also encounter some organically placed celebrity cameos, such as Fred Willard, always a treat in small doses, and an unrecognizable Christopher Meloni as a tow-truck driver-cum-swinger named "Freakshow." Despite a brain-damaged subplot about the heroes' regular encounters with extreme-sports bullies (not sure what point is being made there), the pleasurable comic surprises like these keep coming regularly, layered over a surprisingly egalitarian insistence that anyone, regardless of ethnic origin, has the right to blaze up, pig out, and choose not to conform to racial stereotypes. It's a non-conformist, anti-politically correct message straight from the '70s. If you're of a certain tolerant mindset, it's a sweet relief that someone still believes it.