You know that feeling. It’s one in the morning and you get the munchies for…indeterminate reasons. There’s always hitting the nearest Mac’s or 7Eleven but you’ve done that a thousand times. And the usual fix like McDonald’s, Burger King or, God forbid, Arby’s just aren’t gonna cut it. But there’s always one more option, something that’s exactly what the doctor ordered.
For Harold and Kumar, that place is White Castle. There aren’t any White Castle locations in Saskatoon or in Canada to the best of my knowledge. And I’ve never had the good fortune to eat a White Castle in the USA. But after watching this film, I definitely want to.
After a rough day of Harold being crushed by life and Kumar avoiding it, the boys sit down to relax and are inevitably get the munchies. In rare victory for TV advertising, they see a commercial for White Castle and head out. Naturally, hilarity and hijinks ensue as going from point A to B is no simple matter. To paraphrase Dr. Thaddeus Venture, the boys are waylaid by all kinds of jackassery, particularly that of Neil Patrick Harris.
This movie struck all the right chords when it came out, doing reasonably well at the box office and building a cult following quickly. The reason is a relatable premise. Whatever the cause, everyone gets a craving for something ridiculous and you can’t stop until you’ve filled that craving. Now, that doesn’t usually end up with you riding a cheetah through the woods at night but that’s just prime example of how the movie gets too ridiculous even within its own world.
Harold and Kumar is filled with fantastic cameos that take the movie over the top. Christopher Meloni, who’s a much funnier actor than people give him credit for thanks to his involvement in the Law and Order world, appears in heavy duty make up as a frightening tow truck driver with Malin Ackerman as his wife. Anthony Anderson quite literally tears it up as a burger joint employee. Jamie Kennedy almost arbitrarily appears in the woods beside Kumar to urinate on the same bush. Canada’s own Ryan Reynolds and Sean Majumder even appear as doctors in the hospital scene, though Majumder’s character is less funny and more of dick.
And then there’s Neil Patrick Harris.
Since the end of Doogie Howser, M.D., his career had been kind of quiet. It’s certainly not to say that he wasn’t working in TV, movies, animation and in theatre, just that it had been awhile since he’d really made any waves. Then 2004 and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle hits, with him playing a fictionalized version of himself and he flat out steals the show. His scene constitutes only four or five minutes of the movie but he owns those few minutes. It would be presumptuous to suggest that appearance reignited his career but it certainly put him in the minds of a lot of people who might have forgotten about him. And he is a talented performer in a number of genres and mediums. Did you know he’s an award winning magician and the current President of the Board of Directors of Hollywood’s Magic Castle?
Even though we’d seen them in a number of movies prior to this, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle launched the careers of John Cho and Kal Penn, both of whom are outstanding in their respective roles. After being secondary players in other actor’s vehicles, this was the first movie that really showcased them as the talents they truly are. And it’s just a damn funny movie, even almost a decade later.
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Except for the cheetah scene. That just doesn’t make any sense.
Ian Goodwillie is a columnist for the Spectator Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @ThePrairieGeek and on Tumblr at iangoodwillie.tumblr.com.