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Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Extreme Unrated Edition

The 2000 stoner comedy Dude, Where's My Car? was so ravenously scorned by the guardians of taste that its reputation for meritless idiocy made its title an instant pop-culture catchphrase denoting the ultimate in vapid incompetence (see Michael Moore's subsequent best-seller Dude, Where's My Country?). While by no means a neo-realist masterpiece —Dude is indeed a spectacle of the moronic — it is also an affable and playful comic adventure with a sneaky cleverness exceeding the limitations of its weed-sotted hero dunces. Not to disappoint the expectations of infamy, however, Dude director Danny Leiner has followed up his inadvertent cultural hallmark with another go at the same subject matter, one that this time truly deserves popular derision but none of the accompanying notoriety: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004). Harold (John Cho) is an uptight investment banker with confidence issues; his roommate Kumar (Kal Penn) is a cocky medical prodigy. One Friday night (one assumes, many Friday nights), Harold and Kumar melt their attendant anxieties with some wicked chronic and seek to sate the resulting munchies with a trip to the famed East Coast fast-food joint White Castle. As their destination proves elusive, our stoned anti-heroes endure a night of New Jersey misadventure, encountering extreme-sports hooligans, a mutant redneck with a swinging wife, the strong arm of law enforcement, and, crossing a line no movie was meant to trespass, diarrheic co-eds. Often, Harold and Kumar strives no higher than explicit raunchiness and familiar slapstick hi-jinks, and excels with neither. Bud enthusiasts may enjoy the film's more surreal moments during the latter half, but the sober viewers will likely find them dull in substance. There are a few bright moments, particularly involving a cameo by Doogie Howser M.D.'s Neil Patrick Harris (playing himself), but, for the most part, HAKGTWC lacks the sparkle of true mischief that distinguishes genre standard-bearers, nor do its principal actors employ any persuasive charm. Whereas Dude's baked buddies were amiable man-tards with no mental capacity for bad intentions, Harold and Kumar are self-obsessed, over-educated, pseudo-intelligent potheads, and far less enjoyable guides for a feature-length movie. Lots of cameos: Fred Willard, Ryan Reynolds, Jamie Kennedy, Eddie Kaye Thomas, David Krumholtz, Ethan Embry. New Line presents HAKGTWC this "Extreme Unrated" edition (although its running time, 88 minutes, is the same as the R-rated theatrical version released separately). The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio options. This disc features three commentary tracks: the first with Leiner, Cho and Penn; the second with writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg; the third (billed as an "extreme" commentary) with bit-part player Danny Bouchard, who sounds like pretty much how one would imagine the average fan of this movie. The first two commentaries, bizarrely, discuss the movie as if it seriously addresses racial issues. Also included are several deleted/alternate scenes; "The Back Seat Interview" with Cho, Penn and actor/comedian Bobby Lee; "The Art of the Fart" sound documentary; "Cast & Crew: Drive-Thru Bites"; "A Trip to the Land of Burgers" featurette; "Extreme" outtakes; storyboards; photos; a music video; and trailers. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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