Nerdy accountant Harold and his irrepressible friend, Kumar, get stoned watching television and find themselves utterly bewitched by a commercial for White Castle. Convinced there must be one nearby, the two set out on a late-night odyssey that takes them deep into New Jersey. Somehow, the boys manage to run afoul of rednecks, cops and even a car-stealing Neil Patrick Harris before getting anywhere near their beloved sliders.
18 Jan Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Fast Times at Ellis Island
Once a genre takes hold it “comes alive” and does what it needs to do to adapt and selfishly survive. It happens in horror, especially in zombie and vampire films. And it is happening in the high school film.
High school movies have the unique quality of recalling an experience nearly all of us have had. Plus, you have the simple fact that all teenagers are actors because they simply don’t know who they are yet — the brain just doesn’t have the equipment. So they adopt one of the available roles; I believe there to be seven but some sociologists peg it at 5 for boys and 6 for girls.
In any case, it is perfect fodder for films of the type I call folded: we watch actors playing characters who are actors. Since the roles they are acting are ones we know extremely well, we get drawn in. And that’s the game, to make movies that engage us.
But at the same time we need enough novelty in what we see to keep us interested. We need both and excuse to be in the movie and something (presumably something simple in general audience movies) to see when we are there.
So we get this adaptation of the genre. “Dazed and Confused” focused on second generation immigrants, incidentally immigrants from countries together almost an order of magnitude larger than the US. On a standard substrate we have superficially non-standard players. The entire movie consists of encounters with stereotypes and stereotyping.
Now, the game is to guess what twist the genre will take next.
Posted in 2005
Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.