3 Stars out of 4
Comedy demands levity in its actors. We love to frown upon selfish, self-absorbed, and fatuous characters in this self-satisfactory superiority chuckle. Watching people screw up, conflict constantly, and exercise their futility is the real gag. We just don’t know it. Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle is stricken with intense comparability. Even if you’re not a pot smoker and you don’t have an impish roommate, the college humour is too presentative to not embrace. Most of these 90 minute-no more shenanigans begin as an array of sketches and then evolve into a feature-length running joke. The events that occur seem like they could have come out from any bag of tricks of any SNL skit. But tossing them together makes an incongruent piece of laughter. Key word: laughter. Harold & Kumar GTWC is ridiculous, absurd, cheesy, and even too revolting at times. But it’s friggin’ funny.
We begin with an Indo-Chino collaboration. Our two dorky pot heads have two unique personalities. Harold Lee (John Cho) works in his office all day, while his colleagues manipulate him to do their work for him. He’s Asian, he loves that stuff, they say. Okay, I sort of chuckled. Then we are introduced to Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) and he frivolously skips interviews his father sets up for him. His dad wants him to be a doctor, but Kumar would rather get an MD in Munchies. It’s kinda of weird – Harold seems to be the boy on the playground with the wedgie and Kumar seems to be the one who would have given to him. Either way, they’re best friends, and their pot-smoking shenanigans lead to an awfully funny ride that, as all of these comedies do, definitely sputters after a while.
You see, there’s this burger joint called White Castle that is said to be royalty with the paddies. It’s like a royale with cheese I think Travolta called it. Harold and Kumar, slobbering, intoxicated, wander off on a wild, stoned up, goose chase to feast upon that particular taste. Their hunger is so strong, not even death can get in their way.
And, of course, harebrained things happen. They wander a school campus for marijuana, nestle in between a bathroom stall as two perky girls play battleshits (what a pun!). They even endure the countryside, where a raccoon hops in their car and makes the car almost go topsy turvy. Okay, so that loud gag runs a little flat. But the punch lines do not quit and Harold and Kumar’s charm illuminates. If the jokes do not always cut it for you at times, John Cho and Kal Penn’s performances will. It’s not as if they are intellectually stimulating, in-depth characters. But they exert such different qualities from each other and mesh them together to create this heartfelt friendship that even the audience could consider plausible. These two act as if they’ve known each other forever and that’s the key to immersion in comedy. Get us to believe and cherish the characters. Then the jokes, whether they create only a titter or a chuckle, still clue you in.
Comedy can be so creative. Why did so many fall for the three stooges or the Marx Brothers? It was the expressions, the clumsiness, and the lovableness. It made us ironically wish: if only we could be that silly. Harold and Kumar are not cocky jocks or complete nerds, they’re foreigners. And they make use of that. The touch is not really satirical, just a gateway to the laughs. And what Harold & Kumar does so well – the likability.
Of course the movie is predictable and transitory with its comedic steam. But Harold & Kumar enhances the golden rule of comedy – make the characters funny not their actions. Deep down, these are funny beings we are dealing with, and that makes Harold & Kumar, as nutty as it could be at times, irrefutably authentic.
Harold & Kumar introduces scenarios as if they emerge in a conveyor belt. One ridiculous moment succeeds another. Are we to believe this is possible? Not really, but it’s how the movie makes use of its confident material. Unafraid to explore the folly, virtuous at making us laugh. Maybe cry.
Running on such a thin premise, Harold & Kumar’s stamina mostly suffices. It’s that idea of enjoying the little things in life. Discovering a little fun after a while could change you. It did with Harold and Kumar. But that evolvement in character is pointless. It’s the journey that counts. What is important is that we engage and encouragingly endear to pursue this…er…stoner trip. So that we’re there, White Castle and all, with those two dork knobs. Together, biting into those delicious burgers.
I SAY: SEE IT.