Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Extreme Unrated Edition – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director:

Danny Leiner

Starring:

John Cho……….Harold
Kal Penn……….Kumar
Paula Garces……….Maria
David Krumholtz……….Goldstein
Eddie Kaye Thomas……….Rosenberg
Ryan Reynolds……….Male nurse
Fred Willard……….Dr. Willoughby
Ethan Embry……….Billy
Christopher Meloni……….Freakshow

New Line Cinema presents Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. Running time: 96 minutes. Rated R (for strong language, sexual content, drug use and some crude humor).


The Movie

Every so often I watch a feature film that I preconceived as being lackluster, but I will leave the theater grinning from ear to ear. Guilty pleasures, as they are so called, may vary in their appearance. They can be funny, sad, or serious. And over time they can become cultish in nature. Last year alone some of my guilty pleasures on DVD included Dodgeball and The Lost Boys: Special Edition. Other favorites from my movie collection consist of The Monster Squad (sadly not on DVD), The Boondock Saints, and Real Genius.

Well, you can add this film to that list of guilty pleasure decadence. This is the type of R-rated feature that pot smokers have been clamoring for. Now if they could only remember how to get to the movie theater.

Advertisements for Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle present it as a feature with “that Asian guy from American Pie” (Harold) and “that Indian guy from Van Wilder” (Kumar). Talk about your stereotypes. But these two guys are so likeable I could care less what demographic they go with.

Early into the film the characters Harold and Kumar are illustrated perfectly. Harold (John Cho) is a bookish-looking investment banker who is almost finished for the week. That is until his boss, Billy (Ethan Embry), gives him homework. “Give it to the Asian guy, they love doing this work,” Billy’s friend suggests. So while Billy and his buddy have a night on the town Harold is stuck doing his boss’s job for him. Man, work sucks!

The first time we see Kumar (Kal Penn) is in the middle of an interview with Dr. Willoughby (Fred Willard). Kumar’s father is a doctor. So is his brother. It should be safe to assume that he would follow in his father and brother’s footsteps. Right? Well, not for this prospective med student. When Kumar answers his cell phone during the interview and talks to Harold with expletives and other insinuations, Dr. Willoughby’s eyes widen and he’s dumbfounded. The only reason Kumar went to the interview was to make his father believe that he will soon be entering medical school. That way his father will keep paying the rent on his apartment.

While Harold is more steadfast and goal oriented, Kumar is a party animal (the Spud Mackenzie of the Indian-American community) with no commitments. But they both enjoy smoking the reefer. At the end of a long workweek – for Harold at least – the two decide to get high. As they enjoy their buzz they contemplate food, one of life’s greatest necessities. With munchies on the brain Harold and Kumar talk about how they can soothe their famished stomachs. And then they see a TV advertisement for White Castle hamburgers.

“White Castle.” Those two words are the driving force behind this feature. Now, it may not have the resonance of “Rosebud” in Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane, but for a stoner comedy it gets the job done. In the simplest terms “White Castle” is Harold and Kumar’s pursuit of happiness, and they need to quell their fixation.

Like a demented version of a Bob Hope and Bing Crosby road comedy, Harold and Kumar traverse New Jersey getting into wild and crazy situations. Some of the situations are funny, but some fade out into nothingness. What is it about repulsive woodsy characters and flatulence that leave teenagers clamoring for more? That’s gross-out comedies for you.

There are many humorous scenes in this pot smoking delight. One such scene is when Harold and Kumar discover the White Castle establishment isn’t where Kumar remembered it being. Most heinous. For some reason it reminded me of when Pee-Wee Herman found out his favorite bicycle wasn’t at The Alamo. Bummer.

But the best gag of the film is a hitchhiking Neil Patrick Harris. Looking at his resume you could count his career highlights on one hand. Most notably is his performance as Doogie Howser, M. D. It is that character that endures a barrage of jokes by Harold, Kumar, and even Doogie Howser himself. When Harold and Kumar stop at a gas station Neil Patrick Harris decides to steal Harold’s car and pick up some strippers. But it pays off in the end. Because when Harold and Kumar reach White Castle and see Neil Patrick there, Harold asks “Dude, where’s my car?” which acknowledges the film director’s previous effort.

I enjoyed Dude, Where’s My Car? when it was released, but Harold and Kumar is a much better movie. It may not go on to win any Oscars this year, but it is definitely one of the better teenage comedies of recent memory. Plus it helps when you have two characters like Harold and Kumar.

My fingers are crossed for Harold and Kumar Go to Amsterdam.


The DVD

THE VIDEO

The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The transfer for this DVD is nice. The colors are good, but the skin tones looked a little darker than I remembered when I saw this last August. However, the lighting could have played a factor.

THE AUDIO

If you want to have a little fun showing off your sound system, go to the scene selections and select “5. Princeton.” The bathroom scene will pulsate through your speakers like no bathroom scene has done before. You can listen to Harold and Kumar in English 5.1 Dolby Surround or Stereo Surround Sound. You can also view the film with English or Spanish subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Usually when you see a DVD package that merits an “interactive menu” as a bonus feature you just roll your eyes. Well, this DVD has some of the funniest interactive menus on a DVD release and the DVD package doesn’t even draw attention to them. Go figure.

The first extra is the hilarious John Cho and Kal Pen Back Seat Interview with Bobby Lee. For twelve minutes you get great back-and-forth rapport with all three individuals. Stories include the Princeton scene; the revelation that acting wise Bobby Lee is “Corey Feldman” good; and Kal Penn’s jellyfish incident.

Up next are three audio commentaries. The first feature commentary includes Director Danny Leiner and the stars of Harold and Kumar, John Cho and Kal Penn. This is a fun track. Unlike the commentary on the Dude Where’s My Car? DVD none of the participants become drunk. If you liked any of the Kevin Smith commentaries, you’ll like this one.

The second commentary track features the creators of Harold and Kumar, the Screenwriters Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. For first time screenwriters these two do an admirable job explaining how Harold and Kumar originated, films that influenced their script, as well as other intricacies that make this film great.

The last commentary is an “Extreme” commentary with Danny Bochart. Honestly, I have no idea why they gave this guy a commentary track. He has a minimal role as Extreme Sports Punk #1 in this film. All you purists that have to listen to every commentary track and watch every extra go right ahead. I could have lived without this track, though.

The featurette, The Art of the Fart, is a 10-minute look at what it took to get the sound effects for the diarrhea scene just right. Makes sense to me. Sound is very important to a movie.

Cast and Crew: Drive-Thru Bites runs 20 minutes and is mostly fluff. There are seven small interviews with this feature. Not very informative, but they do have their moments. Some of the highlights include: Danny Leiner, Brooke D’Orsay and Kate Kelton (the bombshell Diarrhea Twins), the screenwriters, and of course Neil Patrick Harris.

If you enjoy burgers take A Trip to the Land of Burgers (10:42), a short “Making Of” of the Harold and Maria Dream Sequence.

You can watch a handful of Deleted/Alternate Scenes with or without commentary. Most are cutting room floor material but there are some exceptions. Check out “Almost Shabbat,” “Kumar’s Extended Fantasy” and the Outtakes.

By plugging the disc into your DVD-Rom drive you can watch the film with a Script-to-Screen with Storyboard feature.

The DVD also includes the music video “Yeah (Dream of Me)” by All Too Much, two versions of the Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle theatrical trailer and trailers for: Blade: Trinity; Festival Express; The Butterfly Effect; and Run Ronnie Run.

Sadly, no White Castle burgers are included.

THE INSIDE PULSE

Even though this film didn’t see box office glory, it will have a long shelf life on video and DVD. Director Danny Leiner said in an interview that if the film is successful on DVD then New Line Cinema will greenlight a sequel. If it worked for Austin Powers it can work for Harold and Kumar. So make a contribution to the “Harold and Kumar sequel fund.” You know you want to.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

7
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

7
REPLAY VALUE

9
OVERALL
7.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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