There are some things that I have never done in my life that seem to surprise people when I admit to them my inexperience. One of these is drugs. Forgive me for sounding like a complete dweeb, but there is not a single drug of which I partook. Since today I am reviewing is Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004), marijuana is, obviously, among these. Or do you want to call it weed? Maryjane? Grass? Who cares? Catholicism does not condone the use of these substances, so that is an added layer to my disapprobation. On a practical level, I do not see the appeal. As I understand it, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient (if you will) in marijuana essentially dulls the senses. Why would anyone want that sensation? God gives us our senses not just to be able to exist in the physical world, but to also acquaint ourselves with the Creator. By the way, I just bounced this idea off an actual theologian and had it confirmed, so I feel I am on the right track. Today’s movie does not seem to care about any of these things. It is also presented as a comedy. I am not sure which is worse, and this article will be me trying to work through these ideas.
Given what I have already said about the plot of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, you might not expect it to begin in the offices of an investment bank. This is where we meet the first of our title duo, Harold Lee (John Cho). He is importuned upon by two of his co-workers seeking to dump their tasks off on him. Because he is non-confrontational, he agrees to do it, which means he has to break off his planned evening with his best friend and roommate Kumar Patel (Kal Penn). This news is delivered to Kumar while he is in the middle of an interview for medical school. It is going well until the moment Kumar gets the call, which he takes in front of the dean. Because Kumar does not care about getting into the institution of higher learning, he also blurts out his anger that they cannot get high together. Kumar’s passion convinces Harold to take his work home with him so that he can smoke with Kumar, and this is where they meet later that evening. I am going to quickly run out of ways of describing this process, so bear with me. As apparently happens to people who are high, the munchies soon hit them. This leads them to the desire to journey to the title restaurant. Unfortunately, the first location to which they travel where they hope to obtain a sack of those tasty little burgers turns out to be a Burger Shack. Determined to get to the bottom of this situation, they speak to the person working the drive through window (Anthony Anderson). He explains that they had recently taken over the building, and more importantly, that they do not want to eat the food. Even better: he directs Harold and Kumar to the nearest White Castle. Unfortunately, it is quite a distance away. Also, their buzz is beginning to die down, which I guess means it is time to reload, which is probably not the correct expression. Yet, when they roll through a malfunctioning toll booth and see law enforcement around, Harold throws their weed out the window due to paranoia. Kumar is perturbed, but sees an opportunity to fix this situation since Princeton University is along their planned route. He believes that the college campus will be fertile ground for securing more pot, though Harold is hesitant because that is where Cindy Kim (Siu Ta) goes to school. While Harold goes to deal with the girl who has a major crush on him (he does not feel the same way), Kumar gets up to his own antics on campus. The long and short of this is that they come away with a little bit of their seemingly always sought after substance, and get back on the road. This is when things go even more off the rails. A roadside relieving on Kumar’s prompts a raccoon to sneak into Harold’s car and bite him while he is working. Still, the subsequent hospital visit gives Kumar the chance to show off his medical skills, while also telling off his pressuring father. An encounter with Maria Perez (Paula Garcés), who is the person Harold actual has feelings for, ends with Harold speeding away and blowing a tire. The car is fixed by a be-boiled man called Randy (Christopher Meloni). While this happens, his surprisingly fetching wife Liane (Malin Åkerman) propositions them both, but they run in terror when Randy wants to join. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker, who turns out to be a tripping-out-of-his-mind Neil Patrick Harris (as himself). This becomes an unfortunate encounter when the famous actor steals their car, and Harold gets arrested while trying to explain the situation to a police officer. One might credit Kumar for breaking Harold out of jail (and obtaining a large bag of weed in the process), but they soon have an encounter with a cheetah that escaped from a nearby zoo, who breaks Harold’s computer. In frustration, and about to give up, Harold decides to steal the car of a group of extreme sports hooligans that have been harassing them all night. When the police start following them, they take off into the woods and lose their pursuit. To top it all, once they crest the edge of a cliff, they spot the White Castle waiting for them below. But how to get to it from the precipice? Why, by using the hang glider in the car they stole, of course. After a fashion, they make it there, consume the long-desired burgers by the bushel, and even run into Neil Patrick Harris, to boot, who returns their car. By the time they return home, it is morning, and Harold sees Maria, who is leaving for a trip to Amsterdam. He lets her know his feelings, and Kumar suggests they all go to Amsterdam.
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is a stoner movie, and not one I would typically watch, at least not at this stage in my life. As I mentioned in the introduction, I have never done drugs. However, there was a time when I found this kind of humor funny. In rewatching it recently, I found it a bit repetitive. Who cares how much they want weed, or to eat at White Castle? The Catholic Church is not as condemnatory as one might expect on these substances. Then again, it is this way with a whole host of things with which it is associated, but such is the burden of stereotypes. The Catechism does address these matters. It basically relates to the term “drugs.” We use legal drugs to help us when there is some kind of malady. The Church accepts this, for obvious reasons. What it is not too cool with (please read as not cool at all) is with their recreational use. Yes, there are therapeutic uses for marijuana. Where science has proven this to be the case is the instances where the Church would accept its use. Harold and Kumar sharing a joint while driving down a random road in New Jersey (in addition to being dangerous) is not therapeutic. Those more committed to that lifestyle might argue with this idea, but objectively speaking Harold and Kumar are not smoking weed to help their glaucoma because they do not have that condition. There are those who claim that marijuana relieves stress. It is easy enough for this Catholic to say that, instead of turning to THC, you should instead pray. However, if that is not enough spiritual oomph, try Mass. Want more? You could always go on a retreat. The point here is that there are a number of outlets for whatever emotionally ails you, and that you do not need drugs to treat them.
It is not just the casualness with which marijuana usage is treated in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle that earns it the warning not to see it. That could have probably been said without writing all that I did, but it is still good to remind everyone on the Church’s stance on these matters. There is also the nudity and swearing that makes it unfit for basically any audience. The mediocre chuckle or two that you might derive from viewing it are not worth the trouble.