I have to admit that I am quite a bit biased when it comes to stoner movies. Ever since I saw Dazed and Confused, I was hooked on those real-time flowstoner comedies, where people would get into all kinds of situations, often hilarious. As a young man, I didn’t even know that such things existed and let alone that they could happen to me. But I digress. Directed by Danny Leiner, who already knew how to make stoner comedies because of Dude, Where’s my Car? Harold & Kumar is one of the best movies in this genre. With a very easygoing and continuous flow, it just sucks you into this world where the usual quests are turned upside down.
Instead of chasing money, girls or notoriety, these two cats are just looking for some White Castle burgers. And weed, of course. Kal Penn, who you might know from Van Wilder and John Cho, the MILF guy from American Pie, were the perfect choices for this movie. It’s also interesting that you have two protagonists who are not white and you know that the target audience is white, so the conclusion you are left with is: stoner movies don’t care about the color of your skin, there’s only one color and it’s green motherfucker! We just have to remember the cult classic from 1978 Up in Smoke starring the iconic duo Cheech and Chong.
Meet Harold and Kumar, two guys living together and navigating through the treacherous waters of adult life. While Harold is working as an investment banker, Kumar is resisting medicine as his calling because of stereotypes. Both of them use weed to relax after a long day. One faithful night they get stoned and have a craving for White Castle burgers. Deciding to go for it, they soon pack up and are on their way to the nearest White Castle. However, upon arrival, they realize that the place has moved and this leads them on the adventure of their lifetime.
Interesting things start to happen when you start analyzing the story of this movie more closely. It tells the story of our society that people just don’t want to hear. Our society and capitalism as its main vessel. A story of people so overworked and fucked up by social norms that they have to have some release, a certain period of the day where most of the things would seem okay. A period where you would not obsess over your own perceived failures, debts, or problems with girls.
Not to mention the overbearing family members who are so determined to steer your life in a certain direction that they see it as love. And on top of that, you’ve got racial stereotypes. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. And then you can watch two girls play a game of Battleshits. And if you don’t know what Battleshits is or how it’s played, but are intrigued by the premise, check out this movie. There are so timeless scenes and gags that you’ll soon learn them by heart. Just don’t be that guy that starts repeating them all the time.
This movie is a stoner movie, road movie, and buddy comedy, a triple whammy that gods bestowed upon the red-eyed population of the Earth. If you’re in a mood for some more Harold & Kumar adventures, you should check two sequels, they were pretty decent. Especially if you’re high while watching them. And if you’re wondering what followed these movies check out Pineapple Express, Paul, Ted, This is The End and others. Enjoy.
Director: Danny Leiner
Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Ethan Embry, Robert Tinkler
Fun Stuff: Neil Patrick Harris plays a character named “Neil Patrick Harris” and is billed as such rather than being billed “as himself.” According to an interview on NPR, this was done to make clear that he plays a parody of himself.