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HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE

2004, dir. Danny Leiner
88 min. Rated R
Starring: The Asian guy from AMERICAN PIE, the Indian Guy from VAN WILDER, Doogie Howser as Neal Patrick Harris.

Review by Noel Wood

I come here today not to talk about HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE. Believe me, I could talk about the movie, and I probably will at least cover it a little bit during the course of this review, but this is more of a review of my moviewatching experience than anything else. In other words, you are about to be subjected to a look at how I spend part of last Saturday; a day that began with a hangover from only drinking three or four beers but strangely ended with me being nice and toasted off of a good twelve-pack or so with no resulting hangover the next day.

I had been wanting to see HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE for a few weeks, but it wasn't on my girlfriend's list of high-priority movies. Neither was ALIEN VS. PREDATOR, which also came out last weekend. It's tough to see movies that your significant other doesn't care about sometimes, and I'm not just saying that she is the cause of my burden. Lord knows I'm not chomping at the bit to see some of the films she wants to see either. This can also work in the opposite direction as well. For instance, I really want to go see GARDEN STATE tomorrow, but the girlfriend is out of town this weekend and wants me to wait until she gets back, so it looks like I'm finally gonna go check out the Fresh Prince tracking down androids. But last weekend, the girlfriend took a trip to visit some family, and I found my opportunity to catch up on some serious moviewatching.

The humongous, ginormous 24-screen theater halfway to the burbs was showing the 87-minute-long ALIEN VS. PREDATOR at 4:00. They just so happened to be showing HAROLD VS. KUMAR, er, I mean HAROLD AND KUMAR, precisely an hour and a half later at 5:30. Using what little math skills I have kept intact since the third grade or so, I figured this was a perfect opportunity for some theater-hopping fun. I'd pay to see AVP at 4, and then hop on over to the other theater just in time to catch the opening of the film that this article will loosely review at some point.

Now, I would never condone such an activity. Theater-hopping is wrong, it is theft from the filmmakers and the theaters, and it is just morally reprehensible. But on this day I felt somewhat justified. You see, I could have bought two tickets from the start. But movie websites are notorious for underestimating the lengths of movies. I remember trying to plan a dual-movie day around convenient start times once, and wound up being pissed because I had bought a ticket for a movie that started at 2:00 and one that started at 3:45 because IMDB and Mr. Moviefone both said the 2:00 movie was 100 minutes long when in actuality it was more like 130 minutes long and therefore I either paid for a movie that I had to miss the end of or paid for one that I had to miss the beginning of. And, morally, I'd rather be the one benefitting.

But don't worry. Karma got me back. You see, big ginormous theater has two wings from the main lobby, as most movie theaters nowadays do. But big ginormous theater works a little different: rather than having one ticket-tearer at the front of the lobby, they have one guarding the entrance to each wing. My 4:00 movie was in the South wing of the theater. So, just to bust my balls, the 5:30 movie was in the North Wing. On top of that, I didn't realize this when I bought my initial ticket, so I would have to exit the theater and re-buy a ticket if I wished to see the second film. And my justification reason was right this time: AVP doesn't run 87 minutes. It's more like 95. Not much difference, but enough that, combined with the time to run back through the kiosk line and buy that second ticket, was able to make me miss the first few minutes of HAROLD AND KUMAR. So all you haters are likely smirking at the idea of me getting bit in the ass by all of this.

So I missed Fred Willard, who only appears in the first few minutes of HAROLD AND KUMAR. That's enough punishment right there. I also apparently missed Ethan Embry, but I can live with that. Besides, he shows back up later in the film. What I didn't miss was the majority of the film, which was pretty damn amusing.

Well, I did miss that one segment of the film. About ten to fifteen minutes worth that occurs around the 30 minute mark. Apparently the theater had a power surge, and the screen went black for a moment, then came back with no sound. The sound was offline for a long while, so my theater sot of improvised. Mind you, this is a screening of HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE. As I mentioned when this film opened, if the police wanted to meet their quotas, they'd raid an opening-night showing of this movie and probably have to arrest pretty much everyone in the joint (pun not intended. Okay, I'm lying. It was intended.) So the activities that occurred within now-the silent theater ranged from bad Indian accents dubbing lines for Kumar to bad Asian accents dubbing the lines for Harold to people giggling along like Beavis and Butthead to some MST3King of the film to people just looking around and saying "let's go get high".

Eventually the sound came back on and the theater started behaving again. It's actually pretty amazing that a theater full of stoners was one of the best-behaved theaters in terms of talking during a movie that I have observed in a while. Then again, if they were all actually high at the time, maybe it's not so shocking.

So eventually, a woman walks in and sits right in front of me. It was odd enough that she came in about 45 minutes into the movie. It was even weirder that she walked in with her 10-year-old daughter. Oh, sure, she could have taken the daughter to see bits and pieces of A CINDERELLA STORY or THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2 or YU-GI-OH! THE MOVIE. But she instead brought her impressionable child into the theater showing a clearly R-rated film whose whole premise is based on an "adult situation". They sat there unfazed by the deluge of dirty words, drug humor, and sexual entendres that came from the actors on screen. But about ten minutes later, the moment that a BARE HUMAN BREAST popped onto the screen, they scattered like cockroaches when the lights come on.

The strange phenomenon of parents walking in with kids didn't end there. No less than twice did an adult walk in and stand at the aisle sneaking a peek at the action on screen while their kids ran around the theater yelling and screaming for several minutes at a time. I'm not shitting you. This was truly a bizarro-land movie theater experience. I almost wish I was stoned, because it might have made the surreality of it a little more amusing.

But the good news is that I didn't have to be stoned to enjoy the film itself. I was one of the few people who liked the predecessor, DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR. Honestly. I thought it was completely original, well-written, and a whole lot of fun. This one isn't quite as bizarre as that one, but it does have its moments. The characters are very easy to like, the situations they wind up in are so ridiculous that you can't help but laugh at them. It's like a road movie for the short-attention-span crowd, and I like that about it.

But I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about the movie itself. Maybe it has something to do with the whole attention deficit disorder motif that this movie heavily relies upon. The way I see it, you're either going to find this movie hysterical or its brand of humor is going to fly right by you. But if you're looking for a movie that pushes the boundaries of conventional comedy while parading out a string of hysterical cameos, then this is the movie for you.

After all, there ain't nothing I can think of that's funnier than Neal Patrick Harris playing himself snorting coke off a stripper's ass in a stolen car. Nothing.

Uh, what was I talking about?

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