Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) shamelessly embody each of their nationalities' stereotypical characteristics. Harold is a hardworking professional eagerly trying to get ahead in the business world while Kumar is living under constant pressure from his parents to become a doctor. They deal with the stress by smoking a little something from Mary Jane's garden and on this particular Friday decide to seal the experience with "the perfect meal." Enticed by the White Castle burger joint commercials the duo decides to leave the confines of their hazy apartment to satisfy their TV-induced cravings for the little square burgers. In the tradition of Dude Where's My Car? their simple straightforward trek turns absurd as Harold and Kumar get robbed by Neil Patrick Harris (aka Doogie Howser M.D.) are arrested for jaywalking ride a cheetah that escaped from the zoo perform emergency surgery take out a ... well you get the picture. Do the pot smokers ever make it to White Castle and even more importantly was it worth it? That's for you to find out.
In the title roles Cho (American Pie) and Penn (Malibu's Most Wanted) elevate an otherwise average comedy to a higher level. Cho plays an introverted geek a yes man who aims to please everyone and thinks the only way to play is safe (he drives a Toyota). But even though he is frustratingly spineless we relate to him the most because let's face it there is a little Harold in all of us. Cho plays Harold straight up which makes the character more believable. Penn on the other hand is the carefree cool guy who doesn't fear consequences. Kumar for example goes through the motions of applying to med school so his father will continue to pay his rent but then purposely botches the interviews to draw out his free ride. Penn nails the role because he doesn't try to hard to be funny and the character is never obnoxious. Plus Cho and Penn have undeniable buddy chemistry and we believe for 87 minutes that they could be best friends off screen.
Director Danny Leiner who helmed the 2000 comedy Dude Where's My Car? has a lot of living up to do here and although he meets expectations he doesn't surpass them. The story penned by scribes Hayden Schlossberg and Jonathan Hurwitz follows the same formula as Dude but the gags aren't as innovative. Harold & Kumar does have some genuinely funny moments including a sing along in the car to Wilson Philips' "Hold On " and Leiner even pays homage to Dude in a scene in which Cho asks Harris "Dude where's my car?" But knee-slapping jokes are sandwiched between desperate toilette humor gags leaving Harold & Kumar unable to hold a lighter to Half Baked which six years ago set the standard for the stoner genre. The characters in Half Baked written by and starring Dave Chappelle didn't even have to peel themselves off the dingy couch to muster sidesplitting laughs. But come to think of it no matter how ridiculous the sight of Harold and Kumar riding a cheetah through the New Jersey backwoods is it's still sort of funny.
Jesse and Chester (Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) wake up with no memory of their wild antics the night before: "Boy we were so wasted!" Walking out their front door they discover an empty space: "Dude where's my car?" So begins the odyssey that is piecing together the strange events of the night before and finding their vehicle so that they can a) retrieve the anniversary gifts they bought for their twin girlfriends b) make peace for destroying their house and quite possibly c) save the universe.
Clueless energetic and amiable Kutcher ("That '70s Show") and Scott ("American Pie " "Road Trip") are charismatic and fun as the dopey duo. They have some good onscreen chemistry work hard to keep their spirits high and are clearly having fun. Kutcher has a definite future on the big screen and if his choices remain consistent Scott might go down in film history as the only actor to have a stoned dog in almost every one of his movies. Also to liven things up there are some amusing cameos by Brent Spiner Andy Dick Kristy Swanson and a flock of ostriches.
Clearly students of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High " "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure " "The Big Lebowski " "Galaxy Quest " "Revenge of the Nerds " "Monty Python and the Holy Grail " "The Pink Panther " "Jurassic Park " "Men in Black " and "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman " screenwriter Philip Stark and director Danny Leiner manage to throw in one or two original ideas amid the good-natured fun and chaos. Honorable mention goes to Leiner for never actually showing our two heroes lighting up or dropping anything psychedelic during the course of the film.
Reuters reports actor/comedian Paul Reubens, best known as the goofy children's show host Pee-wee Herman, pleaded innocent Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of possessing child pornography. The charge stems from a November 2001 search of the actor's house, where authorities "uncovered materials that we believe depict minors engaged in sexual activity," the Los Angeles City Attorney's office told Reuters. Reubens, however, released a statement saying the charge was "untrue and without merit." According to Reubens' lawyer, what the police found were a handful of images from "an extensive collection of vintage physique art photography." The 50-year-old actor was not present at the arraignment. A pre-trial hearing is set for Jan. 3.
The drug possession charge against The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin was dismissed Wednesday after the writer/producer completed his drug rehabilitation. Sorkin was arrested in April 2001 at the Burbank Airport in Los Angeles for possession of cocaine, marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms. The charges were dropped on the recommendation of Sorkin's probation officials.
Actor Adam Rich, who starred as cute little Nicholas on the 1970s show Eight Is Enough, was arrested Wednesday for suspicion of driving under the influence. The 34-year-old actor drove his car into a closed highway lane and nearly struck a California Highway Patrol car, AP reports.
A judge finalized The Sopranos star James Gandolfini's divorce Wednesday after he and his wife, Marcella, settled their disputes without a trial. The couple was married for three years and has a 3-year-old son.
Oprah Winfrey narrowly escaped harm Tuesday when a tent collapsed during a function she was attending at a secondary school in South Africa, injuring 10 people including two children, Variety reports. For the last month the talk show host has been playing Santa to South African children as part of the Oprah Winfrey Foundation's Christmas Kindness Project.
Variety reports Igby Goes Down star Amanda Peet will join Jack Nicholson, Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton in an as-year-untitled comedy for writer/director Nancy Meyers (What Women Want). The story concerns an older man who suffers a heart attack at the house of his young girlfriend's mother. Both he and his young doctor fall for the older woman.
Danny Leiner, the director of Dude, Where's My Car? (a somewhat surprising hit in 2001) is in negotiations to direct Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. According to Variety, the story focuses on two stoner roommates in their 20s--one a Korean investment banker, the other an Indian medical resident--who decide to journey to a faraway White Castle burger stand for their famous 39 cent hamburgers. Of course, they find the road is paved with many obstacles. We can only imagine.
Nick Cannon, hot off his performance in Drumline, is set to star and executive produce The Underclassman for Miramax. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is a cross between Beverly Hills Cop and Never Been Kissed. It is based on Cannon's idea about a young-looking 24-year-old detective sent to do an undercover assignment at a private school where he discovers a ring of car thieves.
Pink's drummer William Johnson was arrested Sunday when a routine passport check turned up a warrant for his arrest for grand larceny in New York, AP reports. Despite his arrest, Pink finished her six-month world tour in Honolulu, Hawaii Wednesday, with Johnson out on $50,000 bail.
Hip-hop artist Nelly's No. 1 hit "Hot in Herre" has been dubbed the best driving song in a Yahoo! poll, getting 20 percent of nearly 4,200 votes. Runners-up were Eminem's "Without Me" with 19 percent and Sheryl Crow's "Soak up the Sun" with 10 percent.