Laurel & Hardy. Abbott & Costello. Martin & Lewis. And now… Harold & Kumar? Perhaps the comparison is a bit forced, but that latter day pair certainly follows the classic set-up: best friends who are also polar opposites (Kumar is the confident, slacker stoner; Harold is the shy, conservative stoner); one has mad schemes (Kumar); the other (Harold) suffers for those schemes, and so on. At any rate, here we have the complete oeuvre of these two characters (and since Kal Penn, who plays Kumar, has subsequently gone on to a couple of season of House before taking a job for the White House, I think it safe to say that we are unlikely to be seeing any further episodes).
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle sets the picaresque model for the two films. Our boys contract a bad case of the munchies after smoking up, and only White Castle hamburgers will satisfy their craving. Their journey to the fast food joint is beset by misadventures, and before the long night is done, they’ll have been arrested, ridden a cheetah and encountered grotesques who seem to have wandered in from After Hours and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay rather early on, thus wasting most of the comic potential of that title. Once again, they are on a quest, this time a cross-country trek to stop the wedding of Kumar’s former flame. The humour here, as in the first, is hit and miss (though White Castle has more hits than Guantanamo Bay). What works, works well, and the Neil Patrick Harris cameos have rightfully achieved cult status. Comedy for the ages? Nah. But decent enough junk food for the eyes.
Think of this kind of undemanding viewing as video comfort food, and the picture fits right in with that description. The colours are warm, the contrasts strong. Flesh tones and blacks are fine. There’s a little bit of grain, but nothing distracting. There’s a handsome, foursquare solidity to the picture that makes everything go down smoothly. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Similar situation with the audio, in that it’s smooth, clear and undistorted. The music has a nice strength, and the surround elements, though hardly spectacular, are present enough to get the job done. The audio options, however, are limited to 2.0, which does seem a bit cheap in this day and age.
There’s lots of stupid mixed in with the funny, and the total lack of extras makes this something of a filler release, but package is certainly entertaining enough, and worth a rental.