Stoner movies are usually seen as the lowest echelon of comedies, blatantly and shamelessly pandering to mentally stunted adults that are still trying to hold on to their fading adolescence. Well, by the general public at least. And although it holds true that a majority of these movies are stuck in a perpetual cycle of arrested development, packed to the brim with stale humor, and little to no character development (i.e the likes of Mac and Devin Go To High School, or Bong Water, or Dude Where’s My Car)
I believe that Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle breaks this mold, you can hold it to the same cinematic standards you would to critically acclaimed comedies like Superbad, or Hot Fuzz, or Step Brothers, etc… The movie follows the trials and tribulations of two lifelong friends Kumar Patel (Kal Penn), and Harold Lee (John Cho) as they smoke marijuana and embark on a journey that may change their life. A journey to get the best darn burgers on this side of the planet: White Castle Sliders. What I find interesting about this movie is that it has a lot of incisive points to make about racism in modern America. Harold Lee is a meek employee of a nameless business conglomerate, his co-workers consistently pawn off their work on him because they believe that “Chinese people live to work”. Kumar is stuck in the shadow of his overbearing father, who pesters him ad nauseam to be a doctor. Although this wouldn’t jump to mind when people think of a fair representation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood, it is refreshing to see Asian-Americans be represented as real people, as having the same vulnerabilities as other people. As being able to be represented as intelligent ‘stoners’, that have a point to make about racism (even within the confines of a ‘stoner’ movie). We’re not all convenience store owners, or Taxi drivers, or Doctors. Hey, we like getting stoned and listening to Steely Dan too. If this isn’t enough to bowl you over, Neil Patrick Harris makes an extended cameo in this movie. Portraying a womanizing, drug addled, alcoholic (the man has impressive range) that runs into Harold and Kumar through pure happenstance.
So, you know, watch this movie. Not only is it a refreshing portrayal of Asian-Americans, it’s a salivating documentary on burgers, complete with a very fish out of water cameo by Neil Patrick Harris. This movie may be one of the most wholesome stoner comedies ever made, and can hold a candle in every regard to more ‘serious’ critically acclaimed comedies.