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Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Starring: John Cho, Kal Penn
Director: Danny Leiner
Rated: R
RunTime: 87 Minutes
Release Date: July 2004
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Malin Akerman, Anthony Anderson, Boyd Banks, Steve Braun, Paula Garces, Luis Guzman, Jamie Kennedy, Jon Hurwitz

Review by Harvey Karten
3½ stars out of 4

The funniest road trip comedy since, well, Todd Phillips's "Road Trip," Danny Leiner's "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" features the kind of odyssey that would knock Homer's sandals off. Loaded with scripters Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg's one-liners, most of which work, and visual gags that are flat-out riotous, "HK2WC" is a considerable improvement over the director's "Dude, Where's My Car," probably because Ashton Kutcher can't hold a candle to John Cho nor could Seann William Scott's performance trump Kal Pen's.

The story features a prolix product placement for the burger joint of the title–the directors of which having granted carte blanche to use their company's name. The movie provides John Cho as the stereotypical, upward-mobile Asian and Kal Penn as the equally stereotypical pre-med student providing great company for each other, their friendship and deep bond coming across even as they argue in the middle of the New The movie catches fire with the obligatory interview scene, this time finding Kumar at a (Kal Penn) meeting a med. school admissions director (Fred Willard), Kumar's one-upping the obnoxious Cingular inconsiderate cell-phone man by interrupting the officer's question about the symptoms of pancreatitis by chatting with a phone-friend's query about marijuana. In fact while you see the two smoking weed only once in the picture–joined by a cheetah who mellows out with the two–many of the skits appear to be figments of the duo's overactive, grass-fueled imagination. After all, how often do you see a pair of young folks riding on the back of a cheetah? (Of course this is possible only because the animal was grabbing a few tokes.)

Harold and Kumar are motivated to take a drive because they have the munchies and decide that their gourmet appetites Castle burgers are named by the cognoscenti. Among the many adventures they have on their odyssey is one with a boil- infested tow truck driver, pus literally dripping out of the burst lumps in his face, a Jesus-freak who gives them a free tow while permitting them to have their way with his hot young wife. A potentially rabid raccoon provides some of the amusement as does Harold's would-be girl friend Maria (Paula Garces), with whom he shares an apartment floor but is too quiet and repressed to start a conversation.

Cho and Penn are natural comics, each probably lost without the other, providing some of the best chemistry of any two actors this year so far. At eighty-seven minutes in length, "H&K" knows to quit just before it could outlast its welcome.

Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten

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