Movie: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

AMC Har-Mar 3:30pm 7/30/04 Score: 8

The first time I saw a trailer for this movie, I was fairly sure that I wasn’t going to see it. Honestly, it was being advertised as by the same guy who did “Dude, where’s my car”. That was closer to the kiss of death than any movie has come before that I have actually went and saw. I did go, and it is surprisingly good. I’m trying to decide if this movie is good on it’s own morals or just because it has reverse Riddick’s Disease.

Let me explain Riddick’s Disease quickly for people who don’t know what I’m referring to. Pitch Black was a good movie. It had a good plot with characters who weren’t predictable and a storyline that, while it wasn’t original, brought out the strengths of the actors. It got decent reviews. The Chronicles of Riddick was also a good movie, but it was written by the same person as Pitch Black, with a couple of the same characters, set in the same universe. Despite all this, it isn’t a sequel to Pitch Black - it’s very different. Pitch Black was an action movie, Chronicles of Riddick was a space opera. The critics didn’t see it this way - they were expecting another Pitch Black, and of course it was panned. This is Riddick’s Disease - a movie that’s expected to be great, but is only good, so it gets panned. It’s like Matrix Reloaded - everyone was expecting a miracle, but we got a decent movie so it got picked apart. Matrix Reloaded’s Disease doesn’t sound as cool as Riddick’s Disease though.

Reverse Riddick’s Disease is just that - you expect the movie to be utter crap, but it turns out to be okay, so it’s hailed as better than it should be. Bad advertising aside, this movie is not a stinker. The start of the movie would be interesting if you didn’t know that the movie was about two guys named Harold and Kumar already who aren’t white guys - there is a short fake-out in the first scene with a couple of guys who are trying to get out of work. Of course, most of the first scene’s jokes are aimed at Harold, so they’re mostly racial. I braced myself for a movie full of bad jokes and wisecracks. Luckily, I got treated to a movie with just not enough point to be interesting.

The setup is fairly simple: Harold is a investment banker who hates his job, Kumar is a genius medical student who doesn’t have any real desire to be a medical student. Harold plays straight man to Kumar’s pioneering, pointless desire to get lit. They get baked on a friday night after Harold got dumped on in the introduction, and become seduced by the idea of the worst food to be had at 2am, White Castle. For the characters, the ends are justification for any means. For the audience, the means is the meat.

The journey is of course the greater part of this movie. There are truly horrible jokes including horrible toilet humor (literally), but there are some well-performed jokes as well, with Neil Patrick Harris being vehicle for some of the better ones. I give the movie a 8.