Those little tiny hamburgers package in a cardboard suitcase, the mini onions that explode in your mouth "like little flavor crystals," and the obscure suburban locations make White Castle a dining experience which inspires a nearly cult following among fast food afficionados. Gothamist has partaken of the chicken shaped in rings in our day, so we know what they're talking about in the new movie celebrating the craving, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.
Gothamist caught a screening of the film, set to be released July 30, last Sunday as a part of the 27th Asian American International Film Festival.
Starring John Cho (Better Luck Tomorrow and one of the MILF guys from the American Pie series) and Kal Penn (Van Wilder), Harold and Kumar follows two best friends from Hoboken, NJ on a Friday night who get high and then decide the only satisfaction for their munchies could be those little White Castle burgers. They take to the Turnpike and as you might imagine, hilarity ensues.
Watching Harold and Kumar on a big screen is an odd experience because it feels like an instant cult comedy, ala Wet Hot American Summer or Kentucky Fried Movie, something you should be watching with a huge group of friends plastered and clustered around a tv while quoting your favorite lines. Even just barely exiting the boisterous screening, Gothamist wanted someone to giggle with about the scene where Neil Patrick Harris playing himself snorts coke off of a stripper's ass in a moving mid-sized compact or Christopher Meloni's performance as Freakshow (egads, those puss-spewing boils!).
If the premise sounds like a rip off of Dude Where's My Car (a film Gothamist calls a "surrealist masterpiece") that's not surprising as the same director, Danny Liener helmed both. But unlike Ashton and Sean William doing the stoned and dumb shtick, Harold and Kumar plays with Asian stereotyping what with Harold's fears of being called a twinkie or Kumar's reasoning that just because he has a perfect MCAT score doesn't mean he has to go to med school.
Like watching Justin Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow, it's exciting to see Asian Americans depicted on screen not just as the sidekicks, the exoticized object or the butts of stereotypes, but as ordinary kids. While Harold and Kumar may not be the most uplifting pan Asian model, it's goofy good fun that will hopefully translate into big box office for New Line. And after seeing the charming stars Penn and Cho joking around with Liener at the AAIFF screening, they've been officially added to our Actors to Objectify list.
AAIFF continues through this coming weekend, at the ImaginAsian Theater on 59th Street and the Asia Society on Park Avenue at 70th Street. The Centerpiece film is Traveler's and Magicians from Bhutan and the closing film will be Tomorrow May Never Come from India. Tickets for the screenings are available through their website.