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DUDE, WHERE'S MY BURGER?

Byline: Bob Strauss Film Critic

HAROLD & KUMAR Go to White Castle'' is a doper comedy that admirably tries to explode ethnic stereotypes while piling on stupid laughs. It does that fairly well, except for one key element: Even doped up, Harold and Kumar are much too smart for a movie this dumb.

Harold Lee (``American Pie's'' John Cho) is a fastidious and somewhat timid Korean-American investment banker. His outgoing slob of a roommate, Kumar Patel (Kal Penn), has a brilliant medical mind but doesn't want to be a doctor like everyone in his family from India. The odd couple likes to smoke a lot of pot, and one munchie-struck night they're inspired by a commercial for those love-'em-or-gag-on-'em White Castle burgers.

So they set off into the wild New Jersey darkness in search of one of the elusive chain restaurants. Along the way, our heroes encounter an escaped cheetah, a pair of attractive twins with decidedly off-putting toilet habits, enough loutish white racists to counterbalance any offense the film's plentiful Asian cliches might give and a boil-necked cretin whose wife enjoys group sex. They also pick up a childhood TV hero, Doogie Howser-portrayer Neil Patrick Harris, who for some reason is hitchhiking in the woods and behaving very badly.

While not as outlandishly contrived as director Danny Leiner's ``Dude, Where's My Car?'' ``H&K'' is about as barely funny and just as hard to believe. Except, that is, when Cho and Penn are allowed to play scenes at their clearly high level of intelligence, which is maybe a third of the time. And even if they are too smart for the show, the actors do manage to make the thing a credible satire of achieving the second-generation dream - which seems to boil down to copping good chronic and shilling for third-rate fast food, dude.

Bob Strauss, (818) 713-3670

bob.strauss(at)dailynews.com

HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE - Two and one half stars

(R: drug use, violence, nudity, racism, language)

Starring: Kal Penn, John Cho, Paula Garces, Neil Patrick Harris.

Director: Danny Leiner.

Running time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Playing: Citywide.

In a nutshell: A dumb comedy about two smart, ethnic stoners searching for their favorite burgers in a Bizarro World New Jersey. The racial humor more or less works; most everything else is unbelievably silly.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

A slacker student (Kal Penn, front) and his investment banker pal (John Cho) run into problems as they search for a particular fast-food restaurant in ``Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.''
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Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Review
Date:Jul 30, 2004
Words:422
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