HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE review
When I choose an event to do with the Alamo Drafthouse, it’s not always because it is a great film. Sometimes, it’s a movie that can just be fun for an audience on a normal showing, but that with Tim League, we can throw an event that is wonderful for all who attend and that lives larger in the memories of all there. It was that potential that led me and Tim to set up the HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE screening.
About 2 months ago, I saw this strange little comical diversion. New Line had screened it for Moriarty, who really seemed to dislike the movie quite vehemently. But the studio believed they had a good fun comedy and set up a screening for the Austin AICN crowd. The screening was at midnight, and there were about 30 people in attendence. I was completely sober, sipping a lemonade during the movie. No illicit substances at all.
The film isn’t rocket science, isn’t genius. It was simply exactly what I think it was meant to be, a fun goofy bit of absurdity speckled with quirks and asides that sometimes leave ya scratching your head and laughing thinking… WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT! As I watched that first time… the audience at that screening laughed, as did I and when it was done. Tim and I knew exactly what we wanted to do in bringing this special screening to life. But first… we were hungering for White Castle sliders and Tim happened to know an ex-manager of a White Castle up north that takes over G&M Steakhouse on N. Lamar here in Austin at midnight and essentially does his version of White Castles. Soon, about 17 people got in cars and headed out to race across Austin at 2:30am to get Sliders. When we got there, we filled the place, tiny restaurant… and ordered every slider the man could cook. As we ate, we laughed about how silly it was that a goofy little movie like HAROLD & KUMAR could inspire a group of friends on a late night rush for comfort food. It was while we ate that Tim League and I put together the plans and dreams for our event, and set it all up.
The event would be a Road Rally, where various teams would get Cds with instructions randomly placed on the Cd, to basically have the teams go on a scavenger hunt that would essentially lead them to the screening and the faux White Castle we would create there. There would be all you could eat sliders, celebrity guests, beer and alcohol… and good times.
The actual day of the event was just spectacular… a top secret love slave and I spent the day enjoying Kubrick’s Lolita while downing Dos Xxs. As we fetishistically enjoyed our day relishing in the wrongness of Lolita, biting limes and drinking good Mexican beer… we began to get excited about the film that night. As well as working up an appetite, and my top secret love slave really was helping me with my exercises… had to burn those calories.
As we drove out to The Cure’s KISS ME KISS ME KISS ME, we giggled about a pseudo White Castle Slider eating contest betwixt the two of us. When we got out there… past the Dinosaur and the giant green boy, up the hill till the elks gathered, we also found the Rolling Roadshow Drafthouse crew. Already there was Father Geek and Massawyrm’s far sexier half “Sheila the Thief” were already chatting, as well as having our vast ‘spread’ of chairs and space set up. The location was amazing, right smack dab in the middle of Austin, not 2 minutes from Downtown, in what I swear to God looked like a Corn Field. There was the giant Drafthouse outdoor inflatable super-screen… around 300 people already in place, a full 3 hours before showtime.
My top secret love slave and I sat down, enjoying drinks and our first bags of White Castle’s. First impression of White Castle burgers?
The meat… it doesn’t look like meat, taste like meat or smell like meat. It has a grey quasi fur like matte finish that I would believe was pulled from the ass of a Roswell Alien then crushed with maggoty looking onions and if you’re lucky… a pickle that really is a pickle. I think. The taste, because I was starving, was wondrously freakishly un hamburgery. They’re also tiny… and in my hands, they were minuscule. In T.S.L.S.’s well manicured hands, they were merely tiny.
These were authentic WHITE CASTLEs, as the corporate staff of White Castle, including the grandson of the founder were actually cooking these treats especially for us. As I ate, I could feel myself being a bit drunk… I’d had quite a few beers, as my T.S.L.S. was trying to get me to a point where she could take advantage of me… and the rest of the crew began to arrive. Johnny Wad, Baby Face Nelson, Louden Trout, May & Adam, Quint, Kraken & Andromeda, Robogeek & Galaxina and of course… RoRo. The White Castles were being wiped out by the bag load. A beach ball began to be bopped around the crowd. I swear, break dancers and jugglers began grooving to a very odd mix tape. VOTER VIRGIN was registering voters and as the sun began to dip down and the light began to go… a subtle scent of ganja began to float above this young Austin audience.
I was asked to introduce the film, but frankly… I was kinda wanting to enjoy the show and let Tim League take center stage. He really did a bang up job on the event. As the Road Rally winners took their prizes, as the sky went from oranges and reds of the sunset to the yummy blues of twilight speckled with kisses of stars forming… The projector lit up and it was time for the film.
Suddenly, someone, I believe Babyface Nelson, had slipped a pipe loaded with wacky tabacky to me and knowing this was definitely the screening for this refreshment… I enjoyed. Under the influence of alcohol, wacky tabacky and White Castles along with residual oxytocin and endorphins from earlier in the day… made this screening approximately 100 times more enjoyable than the earlier screening.
You see, the film is essentially a road quest film between two friends that seek the perfect food for the place they are both at. You see, Harold and Kumar are stoned and they have the munchies. Now, if you watch this film intoxicated, it’ll seem much more funny. Simply because a lot of the humor in this film is determined upon you not trying to think ahead.
When I saw the film the first time… I was constantly thinking ahead of the film. Anticipating the twists and turns, although the “Life with Pot” and “Cheetah” and “BattleShits” sequences just never really were expected and were laugh out loud hilarious during both screenings. But make no bones about it, this is a stoner comedy and is in fact better when stoned. Most critics won’t say that, but having seen it both ways… I can tell you which way was far more enjoyable.
There’s quite a bit to this film that I found enjoyable, no matter what my state of consciousness. First off… I love that it stars John Cho and Kal Penn. I love that somehow this thing is getting a high profile release and isn’t just another “white face” yuppie comedy. Now… how does it compare to ANCHORMAN? This summer’s funniest comedy.
Ok – ANCHORMAN is structured and put together more like a classic Marx Bros bit of absurdity. It is nowhere near as great as the best Marx Bros comedies, but that’s how it aspires to play. But HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE… well it’s more along the lines of a Bing Crosby & Bob Hope comedies… minus the class and style. Or Cheech & Chong, but with laughs no where near the level of those films.
You see, HAROLD & KUMAR is an entertaining diversion, that is never as great as it could be. Missing are the sight gags that could have sent audiences roaring. The raunch is touched upon, but never relished. When you see the character of Freakshow and his wife Lianne… there so should’ve been a love-scene there… Audiences would have been gagging, laughing and passing out, but they pulled back. They passed on the bigger laughs.
I think I understand it. During the Q&A afterwards with the screenwriters, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg… They would describe where they got the idea for ‘Battleshits’ but quantified it as being something that they didn’t really partake in. In describing going to Amsterdam for research for the Sequel of this film, they quantified it with saying, “We never really did anything.” All I could think was… WHY THE HELL NOT? There’s a sense of lack of commitment to securing the biggest laugh. A degree of, not going all the way, because family may be watching, some teacher in High School, or their priest may deem it as being… too much. And there is no room for that in comedy. I mean, Sam Kinison face down on a floor playing a cadaver on a slab being fucked in the ass while screaming, “IT NEVER ENDS!!!!!!” is ok…. It’s about getting that laugh to last longer, harder and more intense. The writers are funny, and they have the potential to be really funny if they just stop saying or writing to the point of making their parents laugh and think of them as being normal.
That being said… I had a lot of fun with the movie, both times. The three gags I mentioned above, are the best gags. Neil Patrick Harris and the ‘BattleShits’ twins are the best and funniest laughs in the film. And watching Neil shows you. The first person to make a non-stop committedly wrong and evil comedy with Neil Patrick Harris is going to own the box office. Neil is fully committed to the laugh. He doesn’t stop and he’ll go that extra mile for the laugh.
By the time you’re done with the film, you should be smiling and thinking… that was a lot of fun, but you won’t think it is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. And you will want White Castles.
Warning about the White Castles.
At about 6am, the night after the Harold & Kumar screening, I had 40 minutes of burning shits due to those fuckers. And all during the next morning, my ass felt like a prison bitch. I mean, it was as if I dropped the soap and was dry fucked by Long Dong Silver. I don’t know if this is a common ailment attributed to White Castle Sliders… but that burn was wrong. Had I not douched with milk to reduce the acidity… I might not have lived through it. But that really really hit the spot! Just a bit of helpful advice, for you slider fans.