Dude, Where’s my Dope
I have really mixed feelings over "Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies" or "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" as it is also known as even though I found several parts of it ridiculously funny, and also refreshingly different, I still struggle to watch a movie which shows such a blatant disregard for drug taking, even if it is for purely humorous reasons. But then straight away from looking at the cover of the DVD and reading the blurb on the back, you would immediately know what the movie is about, so you can choose not to watch it.
Having graduated college Harold (John Cho - American Pie: The Wedding) is now working in a dead end job, where he is abused by other workers and forced to do their jobs for them. Kumar (Kal Penn - Van Wilder: Party Liaison) is expected to go to medical school to follow in the footsteps of his father and brother, but he'd rather spend his time getting high and partying. But when one night they get insatiable munchies for White Castle burgers they go on an adventure in search of their desire.
The main premise of the film revolves around the road trip that Harold and Kumar go on, in search of White Castle hamburgers, and if this was purely the case, the film would be pretty poor. In effect, this is just the vehicle for numerous smaller stories that run smoothly together as they effortlessly overlap, which make what is basically a very funny movie. We have the ongoing story, that Harold is quite repressed and has huge difficulties with communicating with anyone he fancies. On the other hand, there is Kumar a very gifted young man who could make his name in the world of medicine but chooses not to whilst freeloading of the purse stings of his rich Doctor father. Other stories which are most memorable include picking up a hitch hiker who turns out to be Neil Patrick Harris, who also happens to be tripping on some tablet. Okay, so I hear some of you say who, he played Doogie Howser, M.D . in an early 90s TV show. There are hugely funny scenes which revolve around Kumar's attempt to find more weed after Harold accidentally lost theirs, and also an encounter with a racist policeman for a minor offence.
The best part of the story, and what in my opinion makes the film feel slightly different from most teenage gross out movies, is in fact that the lead characters are Korean and Indian. Of course this does allow the writer to put in numerous gags based around their race as well as the racism that they encounter, but this never feels like it is the main focus of the film.
The main focus of the film are the characters Harold Lee, played by John Cho, and Kumar Patel, played by Kal Penn. They maybe not your main stream leads you would expect, but ones which do absolutely brilliant jobs, and what's more, there characters are significantly different to their previous ones that you never begin to think you are watching an American Pie movie or Van Wilder.
The rest of the cast, although solid never really have much of an input into the film, with at least 95% of screen time being dedicated to just Harold and Kumar. But there are some other names who do appear which you recognize, but not necessarily remember where you have seen them before. These include Paula Garces, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Ethan Embry, Ryan Reynolds and the already mentioned Neil Patrick Harris.
Directed by Danny Leiner who had previously brought us "Dude, Where's My Car?", the film is exactly what you would expect for a teenage comedy. Leiner has not really focussed on any one aspect of the films numerous jokes, and has attempted to cram in enough gags, of a decent intellectual level, to leave us feeling satisfied but not bored by repetitive humour. What I also found refreshing, was that although there is plenty of toilet humour, such as 2 college girls suffering from bad "Taco Shits" it never gets to the extent where bodily excrement is digested, which appears to be the trend for many teenage comedies.
Although Leiner has done a good job of making what is a very funny road trip comedy, it does seem to lack that spark which other comedies, such as American Pie have. I personally put this down to the fact the film focuses on just 2 lead characters, which makes the film feel very confined and I have to admit that by the end of it I was glad, as it stopped before it became boring.
"Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies" is packed to the hilt with modern R&B sounds from many modern artists. To be honest I am not a huge fan of this music, but I did not find the sound track off putting or annoying, but over than the use of "Rock to the Rhythm" I wouldn't be able to name any of them. There is a very funny scene, where Harold and Kumar find themselves listening to "Baby, Baby" by Amy Grant and "Hold on" by Wilson Phillips which made for a nice change in tempo.
What this all boils down to is that although "Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies" may make numerous references to drug culture without taking it seriously, I have to admit that the film is very funny. It is not in the league of say American Pie, but for two actors who are not what I would call lead actors, it is remarkably good. The main premise of going on a road trip in search of hamburgers is pretty weak, but this is made up for by the numerous funny sub stories which provide the entertainment in this film. This may not be everyone's liking, and in my opinion will probably only appeal to a teenage audience who enjoy silly films, but then again I still enjoyed it maybe it's about time I grew up.