Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

 
Extremely silly and vulgar comedy with some clever humor.
  • Review Date: January 3, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Rampant homophobic and racist humor meant as over the top. But -- almost unheard of in Hollywood -- the movie's titular stars are Asian and Indian.

Positive role models

The lead characters can be charming and funny, but make some bad choices and smoke pot constantly.

Violence

A surgery scene with much blood.

Sex

Frequent and sexual references and situations.

Language

Strong language.

Consumerism

White Castle is prominently on display here.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Constant marijuana use that looks pretty fun.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie wallows in bad taste and is cheerfully vulgar and offensive in every possible category. It includes constant drug use, bad language, extremely explicit toilet humor, and frequent and explicit sexual references and situations. There is comic violence, some graphic, including a scene in surgery with a lot of blood and a disfigured man. While some characters are bigoted and there is a lot of homophobic and racist humor, a strength of the movie is the portrayal of diverse characters.

What's the story?

The title sums up the plot. Harold (John Cho) has a job that requires him to analyze numbers and a crush on a pretty girl in his building. He also has a big assignment that has just been dumped on him by his boss. Kumar (Kal Penn) is a slacker whose only ambition is not to become a doctor like his father and brother. Oh, and to get completely baked, with which Harold concurs. Once happily stoned, the duo realize that there is only one more thing they need to achieve perfect happiness, those scumptious square hamburgers from White Castle. But the nearest White Castle is a long drive away and it will get a lot longer as Harold and Kumar run into all kinds of characters and crazy adventures along the way.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This unpretentiously genial little stoner comedy has a couple of things going for it. The characters and jokes are a bit above average for a genre with admittedly low standards. And its very unambitiousness gives the film moments that almost approach charm. Many of Harold and Kumar's adventures are gross, disgusting, and downright stupid.

However, there are a couple of moments that are funny, sweet, and even smart, and some commentary on race and ethnicity that almost qualifies as subtle. Cho and Penn are engaging, especially when they sheepishly but then with increasing joy sing along with Wilson Phillips, and there are appearances by Fred Willard, Neil Patrick Harris, and Anthony Anderson. I also give it extra credit for avoiding the obvious forms of triumph over the bad guys.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Harold and Kumar deal with pressure from family and co-workers. What does it mean to say that "the universe tends to unfold as it should?"

  • Parents can talk to kids about drug and alcohol use. What are the real life consequences? How is drug use portrayed in the media?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 29, 2004
DVD release date:January 3, 2005
Cast:John Cho, Kal Penn, Malin Akerman
Director:Danny Leiner
Studio:New Line
Genre:Comedy
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong language, sexual content, drug use and some crude humor

This review of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Written byAnonymous September 10, 2014
age 14+
 

Really funny, but some references

What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byimjustwondering March 27, 2011
age 15+
 

big teens not little teens or tykes

i LOVE this movie this movie makes any scary movie epic movie and any other spoof or funny movie look like a high school low budget funny film this movie is HILARIOUS of course i wouldnt recommend it for kids 14 and under but 15+ yes and yes one age difference does make a difference or if your parents are super strict to the fact the wont let you get the proper sexual education kids need today in this society
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bykate3 April 9, 2008
age 0+
 
Teen, 16 years old Written byYbrik222 March 27, 2011
age 15+
 

Fun movie for adults, not for kids.

I personally love this movie, but frequent nudity, drug use, and swearing make this movie highly inappropriate for children. Despite some possibly offensive humour, there are actually some good messages in this movie. The film promotes standing up for yourself and striving for what you, and not others, desire (in this case: hamburgers). The use of White Castle as the main conflict in this film can be seen as rampant product placement, but it's done well.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass