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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Sophie Giraud, 2004 New Line Productions, all rights reserved)

photo caption:
NOBODY TO GO MY BAIL: Harold (John Cho, left), entreats his friend Kumar (Kal Penn) to come up with a scheme to get himself out of jail.
end caption.

"Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle": Jersey Road Film Follows Famished Nerds on Wild Night Out

Review by Kam Williams

At first blush, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle sounds like your average teen movie, since it borrows its basic elements from such memorable comedy classics as Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke and Office Space. This madcap film revolves around the day-in-the-life road adventures of a couple of friends criss-crossing New Jersey in search of their favorite fast-food hamburger.

The picture's plot resembles that of Dude, Where's My Car, which was also directed by Danny Leiner. Instead of a pair of pot smoking, lobotomized losers, Leiner's protagonists are two academic overachievers who share the same recreational narcotics habit.

Korean-American Harold (John Cho) is an exploited, under-appreciated, yuppie investment banker, while his Indian-American roommate, Kumar, is a nerd who is half-heartedly applying to medical school because of parental pressure to follow in his father's footsteps.

The fun starts in Harold and Kumar's Hoboken apartment one Friday evening when they decide to unwind by smoking some marijuana in front of the TV. Each develops a case of the munchies after watching a mouthwatering commercial for White Castle. They both crave the delectable burgers so much that nothing else can satiate their hunger.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is an over-the-top romp which rehashes lots of drug jokes, but strays from the tried-and-true teen formula. What makes this film different is its presentation from the novel perspective of first-generation children of immigrants from minority groups that are usually marginalized by Hollywood.

You've probably seen Penn and Cho before, but in limited roles as stereotypical Indian and Asian characters, respectively. Kal, who has appeared in 20 movies, was unforgettable as Taj Majal, the scene-stealing second banana in National Lampoon's Van Wilder. He has also enjoyed bit roles playing people with names like Ajay, Sanjay, Mohan, Hadji, Jagdesh, Najaran, Prajeeb and Fez Boy.

John, who distinguished himself in recurring cameos in the American Pie trilogy, has appeared in minor roles as people called Fengmo, Trung, Wo Chin, Chang, Quon, and so forth. In this film, he is able to blossom into a fully fleshed-out person as Harold, Kumar's straight man.

The journey has our hapless heroes careening all about the State of New Jersey from Hoboken, Newark, Freehold, Princeton, Cherry Hill, and parts betwixt and between. Every encounter is invariably bizarre, whether witnessing a robbery in the ghetto, crashing a party on an elite campus, or being teased mercilessly at a convenience store.

After an absurd scene, when they are inexplicably carjacked by Neil Patrick Harris, they hop onto the back of a cheetah which conveniently happens to be passing by. Additional cast members include Anthony Anderson, Jamie Kennedy, and Fred Willard.

Sometimes getting there is all the fun, and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is a kooky case in point.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated R for profanity, sexuality, nudity, crude humor, ethnic jokes, and violence.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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