Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2003)

A journey for sliders and stoner-college adventure befit with [hybridized] racial stereotype-subversion, inconsistent/irresponsible screenwriting in parts, clever POC-narratives, & far-better backhalf once it offloads juvenile gags to start, HKGTWC’s a whiz bro-comedy. 7.1/10.

Plot Synopsis: Nerdy accountant Harold (John Cho) and his irrepressible friend, Kumar (Kal Penn), get stoned watching television and find themselves bewitched by a commercial for White Castle. Convinced there must be one nearby, the two set out on a late-night odyssey that takes them deep into New Jersey. Somehow, the boys manage to run afoul of rednecks, cops and even a car-stealing Neil Patrick Harris before getting near their beloved sliders.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

Kal Penn & John Cho

The Stoner-Comedy Duo’s First Film, H&KGTWC Tackled A Lot More Than Just Sliders After An Epic Smoke Session

Photograph Courtesy Of: New Line Cinema

My mouth is watering as I start this review. Growing up in the Northeast, there is a holy-grail burger-stand we always used to crave on any road-trip from our home in Washington, D.C. to the greater-NYC area: White Castle. From 1921, the classical-Americana of this humble home-grown beef-patty mecca earned it the status of the first fast-food hamburger chain in the world – a bonafide-addiction of small square-cut sandwiches so easy to slide down, they were called [the first] Sliders and eventually recognized today by Time as the most influential burger in the world. You know who really loves eating: college kids.. especially the marijauna-hazy ones craving late-night mucnhies on a Saturday night. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone put two-and-two together and capitalized on this market and target fan-base – mixing in a healthy dosage of savage comedy: a new duo named Kal Penn and John Cho. A journey for sliders and stoner-college adventure befit with [hybridized] racial stereotype-subversion, inconsistent/irresponsible screenwriting in parts, clever POC-narratives, and a far-better back-half once it offloads its juvenile gags to start, H&KGTWC is a whiz bro-comedy above the majority of its comparatively-primitive genre.

A New Flavor Of Stoner-Comedy

From The Coy, Demure Rootability Of Quiet Asian Banker Harold To Irrepressible, Ditzy Mirth Of Not-So-Dr. Kumar – A Likable Duo

Photograph Courtesy Of: New Line Cinema

The central duo steals the screen from the first scene we’re introduced to each of them: coy, demure quiet-Asian-guy-in-the-office Harold and the irrepressible, ditzy mirth of Kumar. They’re set up as mega-successful high-achievers core to their cultural heritages: Harold as an investment banker and Kumar at medical school interviews wherein even the toughest of admissions committees gush over his application. However, the film then takes a complete-180 – with Kumar taking a phone call in a Harvard Medical School interview millions would kill for (I should know.. I went to Medical School and was sitting in those same types of interviews across the country) to talk aloud profanities and smoking weed tonight. Although the setup is ridiculous and highly-disrespectful to medicine that some guy half-assing it could even make it that far in what’s easily the toughest profession in the world, the existential purpose of the shocking reversal is well-achieved. The film demystifies Asians as more than just Dr.’s and hardworking/successful intellectuals – just as human and flawed as everyone else both through screenwriting and the sheer likability & chemistry-interplay between Kal Penn and John Cho.

The Flavor Of Its Epic Food Ad

The Film Is One Of The Most Effective Food Ads – Making You Crave Thin-Cut Sliders, Crinkle-Cut Fries, & Classical Americana

Photograph Courtesy Of: New Line Cinema

This new Asian/S.Asian flavor of buddy stoner-comedy is one that is refreshingly-diverse and just as effective as any other, one whose proof is in the pudding of a franchise making $100M+ off of cheaply-made college-comedies and also supplies great cultural representation on big-screen epics without once feeling-forced or inauthentic. The flavor of its epic food ad is perhaps even more savory. H&KGTWC serves as a benchmark for the ultimate munchie-fest – a food-poirn presentation that will make you want to drive to NJ right now for those juicy thin-cut sliders, crinkle-cut fries, cherry coke, and classic Americana served at the oldest fast-food chain and first hamburger stand in the nation’s history. The odysseic quest for this late-night pig-out seems pretty simple: a 15-30 min. drive around the corner and they’re in burger heaven. Things go wrong at every increasingly-crazy turn, though, and H&K are taken on a stoner college adventure befit with everything from Princeton raves to cheetahs to NPH to battle-sh*ts – and a lot of marijuana. The comedy is good when it’s good – and bad when it’s bad.

A Stoner College Adventure

A Collection Of Crazy Events That Make This Trip To WC One Fraught With Comedy: Cheetahs, NPH, Princeton Raves, Marijuana

Photograph Courtesy Of: New Line Cinema

The jokes/gags are hit-and-miss like the nightmarishly-awful ‘battle-sh*ts’ scene amongst the worst scenes in cinematic history. The cheetah ride, super-mario spoof, NPH-carjack, Freakshow, and Princeton rave (Mr. Park, FTW!) are hits in the massively-superior back-half that atones for the sins of the stupid-comedy first-half: animal-jizz, falsified doctorship illegal while putting innocent lives at risk (not even something that should be joked about), shaved pubes, and battle-sh*ts – I cannot express how violently-bad that scene is. The film starts so badly, I almost turned it off and don’t blame anyone for clicking exit for how tasteless and vulgar its early scenes are, but it does get the energy of early-20’s college shenanigans well and evolves into a good movie to end, resonantly pushing away the memory of its [many] misgivings – but what really impressed me was the complex POC/Asian narratives and stereotype-subversion it manages to fit into a genre with no business being this astute. A stoner-comedy munchie film tackling racial identity and such lofty, ambitious topics as The American Dream is a veritable miracle – the major reason this film rose from the dead to pass on board-scores alone.

Complex POC Narratives & Subversion

The Best Part & Total Surprise In A Dumb Genre, Potent Exposition On Critical Asian-American Themes – Despite Few Plot-Holes

Photograph Courtesy Of: New Line Cinema

Though it sometimes perplexingly and maddeningly leans into pre-established stereotypes it swears it’s subverting [the Apu store-clerk.. c’mon], it overall does a hyperfocused job of setting up major demographics and showcasing them beyond what we think of them as – that they’re human and flawed too like beautiful girls and Asian-Americans. Being Asian and a POC son-of-Indian-immigrants myself, the film might boast one of the most (and only) expositions I’ve ever seen on our cultural identity themes – how society puts big expectations on us to succeed because our ancestors have always worked hard and achieved high academically, and it can be annoying to be reduced down to a stereotype as the nerdy-doctor-kid, but that’s how you win over racist white supremacists/jackasses who can’t be reasoned with and want to keep you down like the crew that haunts the events of the film. The film also juggles points on police-brutality and white privilege. Finally, The framework of the munchie-odyssey to White Castle as a metaphorization of The American Dream commenting on our primal ancestors’ [literal] hunger coming to this country is simply-put genius and easily lifts this film above the majority of its genre – even despite its flaws and a slew of plot-holes/inconsistent characterization (e.g. no one teaches you how to do full surgeries in pre-med or asks how to cure complex diseases in Med School interviews – I can personally certify out of experience).

Conclusion

Fast Food, High Times

NotYour-Average Stoner-Bro Comedy, H&KGTWC Paints The College Late Night Experience, [Mostly]-Funny Gags, & Complex P.O.C. Stereotype-Subversions

Photograph Courtesy Of: New Line Cinema

Overall, H&KGTWC is far-from-your-average stoner-bro comedy. The clever subversive points it makes in demystifying and dissecting The American Dream and racial stereotypes is one of the most precocious I’ve seen tackled – a veritable surprise in a movie of this genre and one that starts off so poorly. The vulgar/tasteless and wildly-inconsistent stupid-comedy to start almost turned me off to the point of not watching, and [unfortunately] will likely do the same to many who can’t bear to watch the nightmare scene of ‘Battle Sh*ts’ amongst the worst sequences in cinematic history or how aggravatingly-pretentious it is about Medicine when (I know from experience having actually GONE to Medical School) people would kill for the same interviews Kumar treats as jokes. However, it does eventually regain that taste – and taste-galore both literally in its mouth-watering White Castle burger-sliders and metaphorically in its college-energy-laden night adventure odyssey across a state in pursuit of their happiness. Being Asian and Indian myself, the film harbors some of the deepest dives into the psychology of our experience and history in America – and that, alone, should be praised in its kill-with-success and character development of well-acted and likable dual-leads. A journey for sliders and stoner-college adventure befit with [hybridized] racial stereotype-subversion, inconsistent/irresponsible screenwriting in parts, clever POC-narratives, & far-better back-half once it offloads its early juvenile gags, H&KGTWC is a whiz bro-comedy above the majority of its comparatively-primitive genre.

‘you have the same lame taste in movies!’ must be talking to anyone watching this

Pros: harold a good actor gets awkwardnesss of flirt and 9-5 office jobb well /// white castle put on map and perfect sliders food for stoners /// stoner comedy /// subversion of racial stereotypes /// best part of the film is the jounrey to white castle for stoner food burgers should get a lot more attention and be one miraculous journey thourgh 1000 weird coincidences for wc /// great soundtrack modern hip-hop/rap boomb-bap 90’s chill mellow lowdown diegetic background sound /// irony that asian stereotype guy perhaps the best actor in the movie hilarious raising hand tucked in shirt geek laugh /// subverts asian sterotypes asians partiers and delinquents smoke /// does demystify asians as more than drs or high achievers but also human too flawed and fun-seek as much as rest of us /// good gross-out comedy ugly guy /// does get the college energy right and adventure best part if only with better gags and adventure points like princeton and hitchhiker one good /// star-studded cast ryan reynolds neil patrick harris /// quest for burgers night gets crazier /// the angle of dealing with racist and bigoted white people is one poc will understand and appreciate cops store – way to get back at them is with success though thing the film doesn’t understand and most asians do why intelligence well-used /// back-half SO much better once it gets the stupid comedy out of the way to start and also smart racial themes police brutality cheetah races /// better meta-analysis to end about american dream ancestors escaping persecution poverty hunger and this is about am dream pursuit of happiness /// definitely hits you craving for burgers and white castle succeeds as a food movie /// acceptance of potential and denial of foolish wanting to be cool or fit in with americanized stereotypes of what’s cool and success kills hatred racism and confrontation quiet asian guy in office do your work not used anymore /// good character development /// likable leads although harold far bbetter than kumar ////

Cons: stupid from beginning – know from personal experience GOING to med school no one asks for cure of a rare disease in med school interview and no one would take phone call in middle of med interview one of hardest points to reach in life only 1% of applicants 1% who got through toughest classes of 1% /// so wrongly-scripted why someone no care abt going to med school or mcat or classes or application /// not even a nice apt and dada doctor – idk what point they’re trying to make that all stoners that smart most didnt even grad hs and if smart enough perfect mcat then could do any job make millions instead of wasting life away smoking so aggravating /// this is just stupid type of comedy — trimming pubes, naked butt dumb comedies stoner comedy gone wrong —- ‘we’re so high right now bro!!’ ‘we’re not low!!!’ /// dumb comedy boobs /// acting is artocious outside of harold even kumar not good constantly delivering awful lines /// lays on the racial stereotypes extremely thickly – i get the point to try to subvert them but does a horrendous job mountain dew homophobia white people adding animal smen into fast food what on earth is this //// games of poop battleshts so unbelievably stupid /// antigravity raccoons /// dont close door and go way off highway to pee /// security guard face memory even though was below stairs /// you know holocst opposite of that who thinks it’s a good line /// bad screenwriting HOW WOULD YOU NOT KNOW THE HOSPITAL WHERE YOUR DAD AND BROTHER WORK – harold haircut awful /// goof off interview no work or anything but smoke weed post-college rebel bs so dumb /// dont achieve just go be a stoner what is point trying to make here? /// posing as drs which is illegal and SO wrong bascially telling people watching go pretend to be drs could cost lives and illegal /// pre-med do not teach ow to do surgery on a ptient know from experience how on earth wrote this script /// perform surgery but so stupid he decides to throw out the spare tire in a car horrific character screenwriting also picks up hitchhiker and leavers keys in car /// subvert stereotype yet plays into one with indian convenience store apu [who ONLY speaks hindi nice touch..] and white guys rednecks and jesus /// guy also knows hindi one of most complex languages yet makes stupid decisions /// give animal drugs /// also don’t agree with do nothing just accept racism have to fight back too /// dont like how sets up sequel go amsterdam and lessens character dev why not tmrw /// subversion even goes to gender too although not always good battleshts one of worst and most vulgar/tasteless scenes in cinematic chistory

Offiical CLC Score: 4-5/10