While Oscar Wilde has nothing to worry about in terms of loosing his position as a great master of sophisticated comedy, there is something to be said for the improbably funny Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Filled with scatological humor, drug jokes, a simple plot and crossing the line of good taste more than once, it is one of those films that you end up enjoying even though you know, deep down, that it shouldn't be as funny as it is. This comic gem has now arrived on Blu-ray sporting all of the bonus features found on the SD DVD as well as a nice picture and 7.1 sound.
Kumar (Kal Penn) is Indian slacker who just scored some great weed. He should be going to med school with his undergraduate record and his perfect MCAT scores, but as he tells the man at the med school interview "just cause you're hung like a moose doesn't mean you gotta do porn."
Harold (John Cho) is a low level investment banker at a large company who always gets conned into doing other people's work. He just can't stand up to the office bullies and say "no". While he should stay late to finish a college's work, his roommate, Kumar, talks him into getting stoned one Friday night instead.
While sitting on the couch nicely buzzed, the pair gets the munchies just as a White Castle commercial comes on. It's as if fate is pointing the way: They must go to White Castle. When they travel to the nearest White Castle, one town over, and discover that it has been taken over by another chain, they learn that there's another branch, open 24 hours no less, only 45 minutes away. Thus starts an adventure that they'll never forget.
This is a funny movie that's the opposite of the teen comedies of the 80's and 90's. Not only are the main characters stoners, they aren't even white. As one of the writers mentions in the commentary track, these are the guys who would have minor roles in a traditional teen comedy, the funny guy with dark skin. In this movie however, it's the white guys who are the antagonists, from the extreme sports fanatics to the grotesquely ugly born-again tow-truck driver. It may seem like a small difference, but it's refreshing to see a different take on things.
Like the Scorsese film After Hours, as the evening wears on, the closer they get to their destination, the more outrageous the situation that they pair find themselves in. This is a great source of humor, with each event becoming more and more bizarre. First they take a wrong turn and find themselves in the bad part of town where they watch a pair who could be their doubles getting attacked for no reason, and the next thing they know they're being attacked by a raccoon or pushed into the operating room of a hospital where Kumar has to operate on a gunshot victim. (Not to mention Harold getting his car stolen by Doogie Houser.) By the end of the evening they're pulling outrageous stunts to both stay alive and to get to what has turning into a quest not unlike the search for the Holy Grail: to get a White Castle burger.
While the situations are amusing, it's the dialog that really makes this film as funny as it is. When Harold and Kumar run into a friend who has just seen a flash of Katie Holmes' tits in a movie on cable, he describes it in vivid terms: "You know the Holocaust? Picture the opposite of that!" The jokes are piled on, but not so fast that they loose their sting. As amazing as it sounds, this is a 'stoner' picture that's actually funny.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The 1080p 1:85:1 VC-1 encoded image looks pretty good. The blacks were nice and inky, and the white levels were appropriate. There were no print defects to mar the transfer, as would be expected with a recent film. The picture was a bit on the soft side, and it could have used just a bit more detail in some places. This wasn't a horrible defect however.
The movie comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which is very pleasing even if you only have a 5.1 setup like I do. While this is mainly a dialog based film, there are some moments when the soundtrack really shows off, such as the scene where Harold and Kumar's car runs off the road. It only lasts for a second, but the rears are blazing and the sub kicks in nicely. The dialog is sharp and clear and the background noises are distinct. It may seem like a little much giving this film a DTS-HD track (with 7.1 no less) but it's a trend that I'd like to see continue.
This disc ports over all of the bonus features from the DVD, and while they are all in SD, it was nice that they included them. First off are three audio commentaries. The first has director Danny Leiner and actors John Cho and Kal Penn giving their thoughts on the film. This was interesting and fun as the three played well off of each other and kept the track alive. Next is a track with writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg which is also informative. They talk about what they were trying to do with the script and point out some lesser jokes that viewers might have missed. Finally, in the 'this is overkill' department, there's a commentary track by "Extreme Sports Punk #1", Dan Bochart. Okay.... This was his first feature, and he was still wide-eyed about the whole process. His comments were pretty funny, talking about how great the craft service truck was, and how hot the female lead was. There were a couple of places that I laughed, and if you're wanting a different type of commentary track check this one out.
On the video side of things there is The Back Seat Interview, where comic Bobby Lee (who has a small part in teh movie) interviews John Cho and Kal Penn in a very irreverent style. This discussion isn't serious at all, and fits the mood of the film. The Art of the Fart is a bit on the creation of the Battleshits scene which is amusing, and A Trip to the Land of Burgers is a look at the movie's animation. There's also a series of short cast and crew clips, a selection of deleted scenes (including an alternate ending that works much better,) and some outtakes. In addition to all of that, there's two trailers and a music video.
The new to blu-ray features start with The White Castle Craver's Hall of Fame, a promotional segment where Cho and Penn were inducted into White Castle's Hall of Fame (yes there really is such a place.) There's also a sneak peek to the sequel, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, as well as a trailer to that film.
Written by a pair of novices and directed by the man behind "Dude, Where's
Your Car?" this film should be horrible. It's actually a funny flick
that, while it may never become a classic, is still worth watching.
The Blu-ray disc ports over all of the extras from the "Extreme Unrated"
SD DVD and has a nice picture and sound. There are definitely worse
ways of spending an evening. A strong Recommendation.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do
not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.