Sunday, June 01, 2008

HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANEMO BAY - everyone's a little bit racist!

Roldy is an up-tight hard-working Korean-American investment banker. Kumar is his Indian-American pot-smoking med-school-dodging best-friend. The movie picks up from the end of the sleeper hit HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITECASTLE, in which our two heroes got high, got the munchies and went in search of the perfect hamburger. In this movie they head to Amsterdam so that Harold can hook up with the hot chick in his apartment building - Maria. But en route they get accused of attempting to hijack a plane, when all they were really trying to do was get high. They're shipped to Gitmo, quickly escape, and then travel across the American South in search of a presidential pardon and, for Kumar, true love!

All the stuff we loved in the first movie is here in the sequel. Harold and Kumar (John Cho and Kal Penn) have great comic timing and there's another great cameo from Neil Patrick Harris aka Doogie Howser MD. Some of the stuff we hated in the first movie also persists - the random shagging of the big bag of weed dream sequence, for one. But underneath the gross out humour and the ludicrous plot, HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANEMO BAY has an actual, proper, well thought-out message!

The comedy genius that was Tom Lehrer once wrote a song called "National Brotherhood Week"....

"Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics / And the Catholics hate the Protestants / And the Hindus hate the Moslems / And everybody hates the Jews

But during National Brotherhood Week / National Brotherhood WeekIt's National / Everyone-Smile-At-One-Another-hood Week / Be nice to people who / Are inferior to you / It's only for a week, so have no fear / Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!"

And that's basically the message of HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANEMO BAY. It sucks if you're Korean or Indian, so people assume you're a Communist or a terrorist. But then again, it sucks if you're from rural America and people assume you're a provincial dolt with in-bred kids. Even George W Bush gets a break: we assume he's an asshole but maybe he's just another kid pressured into joining the family business?!

So there we have it. H&K tell it like it is: everyone's a little bit racist. Now, who'd have thought such a popcorn movie would dare make such a political statement?!

HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANEMO BAY opened in April in Singapore, Canada and the USA. It opened in Iceland in May and in Australia in August.


  1. Hindus hate Jews?!! I had to do some digging; fascinating stuff:

    "There are said to be 3 categories of Jews in Cochin; "white", "brown" and "black". They all claim to be exiles from Palestine from the year 70 C.E.[1] It is believed that the "black" Jews came after the Islamist conquest of Persia in the 7th century and that the "white" Jews came from their expulsion from Spain in 1492 C.E." (link)

    "Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Indian Jewish experience is the complete absence of discrimination by a host majority." (link)

    Anyways I find the movie definitely weaker than the first instalment. The political message isn't delivered presumptuously, which shows good craftsmanship (a slight nod to the influence of the Boston Legal guys?). However the script appears less original and many times predictable and I felt the nice rhythm and structure of the first one was missing.
    Anyways, we're talking about a light comedy. Cho and Penn make the script work wonderfully! As this it's very good fun!

  2. Not sure if it's weaker. The whole battleshits sequence in Whitecastle was seriously weak. But you're right - the producers definitely saw the winning formula and tried to stick as close to it as possible. Still, I love this movie. Love it. And I don't care who knows it.

    Speaking of clinging on to credibility, what on earth is this? "I hate that England is not playing the Euro 2008. Having arguably the best league in Europe, any Austrian victory will be incomplete without having beaten The Three Lions."

    Austrian victory???!!!!

    Now I know I shouldn't mock as we're not even competing. But really??!! And I'm sure you realise that we have the best domestic league not least because we have a lot of great foreign players. This is why we do okay in Champions League but suck at the national level.

  3. You couldn't miss the tongue in cheek there *g*
    Well...... Austrians generally just don't think of their team very highly. I mean, we still! reminisce about Cordoba '78 when we beat the Germans in a not very important WC game. This is considered the last good moment in Austrian football history. (In fact, Austria only participates because it co-hosts the show.)
    So, I expect them to.. mh.. participate. The yay! part is that we play the Germans again!
    Go Austria! Even better, run!!
    (Patriotism where patriotism is due.)

  4. Cordoba 78? I was wondering when that was going to come up. Our friend Florian Ederer talks about nothing else! What can I say, in the absence of England being in it, to win it, more power to the Austrian team!

  5. I'll drink to that with a Pimm's cup!

  6. Dude, I'm so glad this movie is good, I was praying it would be after the excellence of the first H&K.

    In a summer of Indy 4 and Sex & the City, we needed to decently stupid comedy with dumb racist jokes and non-sequitor plots.

    God bless america.

  7. On the other hand my summer went down the tubes when I drew Spain in the office sweepstake. Although I suppose there is some justice in giving an England fan another team that always underperforms in national championships because the players care more about team salaries and endorsements.

    But like the Murphy's, I'm not bitter.

  8. Hey, everyone's tipping them. Like I said the other day, it's great supporting Spain, you can back the favourites but still be seen to be supporting an underperforming underdog.

    Don't throw away that sweepstake ticket too soon!