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Unformatted text preview: "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" Bathroom humor and stoner jokes aside, this teen-pleasing, stereotype-challenging road movie has a lot to say about race in America today. By Stephanie Zacharek, Salon Jan 11, 2005 | When I saw Danny Leiner's "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," I knew it was good. But I didn't know how good it was until I saw James L. Brooks' "Spanglish." "Harold & Kumar" isn't a social issues movie, as "Spanglish" is, and to treat it as one is to diminish the pure pleasure it gives as a work of unabashedly dumb stoner humor. Even when they're over the top, the gags in "Harold & Kumar" have a kind of Zen garden simplicity -- they don't demand brains or logic as much as a willingness to surrender to the corner of your brain that sometimes forgets how to spell words like "accommodate" and "likability." But Leiner ("Dude, Where's My Car?"), working with writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, also seems to be angling toward something bigger, not so much in what he says as in what he doesn't say. Race is an issue in "Harold & Kumar," but it's not the issue. Without lifting a finger to make its point, "Harold & Kumar" -- now out on DVD for those who missed it in theaters -- may have said more about race in America today than any other movie of last year. Harold Lee (John Cho, who has appeared in "American Pie" and its two sequels, although this is his first starring role) is an analyst with a big investment firm; Kumar Patel (Kal Penn), his best friend and roommate, is brilliant enough to get into medical school without even trying very hard, but for now, he's more interested in hanging out and getting high. By day, Harold and Kumar are your stereotypical children of Asian immigrants, bright young men who work hard (or who at least know, deep in their hearts, that someday they will work hard). But just when we've wedged them into one stereotype, they wriggle out of it and into another. By night, they're lazy potheads who slouch in front of the tube, becoming dazedly susceptible to fast-food commercials, specifically one for White Castle, in which a cascade of "sliders" and fries tumble forth seductively like a blessing from above by the Almighty Himself. There's nothing for Harold and Kumar to do but hop into Harold's car (he brings his laptop with him, so he can get some work done along the way) and look for the nearest White Castle, which is farther away from their Somewhere, N.J., apartment complex than they think. And so "Harold & Kumar" becomes a road movie, a textbook example of that comic art form that we think of as distinctively American (although in reality its origins...
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This note was uploaded on 01/11/2010 for the course AMST 301g at USC.