LAS VEGAS -- If one were able to toss the American Pie
trilogy, the John Hughes brat pack pictures and the Cheech & Chong
screen oeuvre into a cultural blender and then press the pulse button a few times, the result would probably have the flavor and consistency of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
, a blissfully silly, character-driven road movie with impressive laugh-per-minute performance specs.
Screened at the CineVegas Film Festival (and shown a day later at the Los Angeles Film Festival), this inspired entry in the generally languid stoner comedy genre is a comparative breath of fresh, if herb-scented, air.
Effectively carried by a pair of relative newcomers, the New Line release should satisfy the cravings of laugh-starved young-adult audiences and will likely hang around well past Labor Day.
Meanwhile, the folks at White Castle would be wise to ensure their burger inventories can withstand an inevitable late-summer onslaught from copycat customers.
Making like a multicultural Bill and Ted, Harold Lee (John Cho
), a socially reserved, somewhat-anal accountant, and his outspoken, would-be med student roommate, Kumar Patel (Kal Penn
), are, ahem, chronic overachievers when it comes to partaking of one of their favorite weekend activities.
Overcome with a particularly insistent case of the munchies while watching a seductive White Castle commercial, they rise to the challenge and embark on a nocturnal quest across the backwoods of New Jersey in search of the cute little burgers.
But the road to fast-food riches is paved with considerable peril in the form of potentially rabid raccoons, escaped cheetahs, corrupt cops, a boil-infested tow-truck driver named Freakshow (Christopher Meloni
) and even a horny Doogie Howser (a funny Neil Patrick Harris).
Working from a lively script by rewrite specialists Jon Hurwitz
and Hayden Schlossberg
that manages to find a place for animation, puppetry and some light CGI, director Danny Leiner
keeps it all chugging agreeably forward, while his cast, which also includes cameos from Fred Willard
, Anthony Anderson and Ryan Reynolds, join in the goofiness.
But it's Indian-American Penn, who is a welcome burst of comic energy, and Korean-American Cho, as his hapless foil, who keep the proceedings anchored in a real-world reality too-seldom represented in contemporary comedies. It's nice to see characters who are usually relegated to stock, stereotypical supporting roles finally allowed to carry the entire picture.
That alone is almost enough to forgive director Leiner for Dude, Where's My Car?
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
New Line Cinema presents in association with Senator International
a Senator International/Kingsgate production in association with Endgame Entertainment
A film by Danny Leiner
Director: Danny Leiner
Screenwriters: Jon Hurwitz
& Hayden Schlossberg
Producers: Greg Shapiro, Nathan Kahane
Executive producers: J. David
Brewington Jr., Luke Ryan
, Joe Drake, Carsten Lorenz, Hanno Huth
Director of photography: Bruce Douglas
Production designer: Steve Rosenzweig
Editor: Jeff Betancourt
Music: David Kitay
Music supervisor: Dave Jordan
Casting: Cassandra Kulukundis.
Kumar: Kal Penn
Harold: John Cho
Maria: Paula Garces
Himself: Neil Patrick Harris
Goldstein: David Krumholtz
Rosenberg: Eddie Kaye Thomas
Freakshow: Christopher Meloni
Male Nurse: Ryan Reynolds
Dr. Willoughby: Fred Willard
MPAA rating R
Running time -- 87 minutes