Harold and Kumar
OK, yeah, the plot revolves around two guys getting high, then hungry, and this is their Odyssey-like journey to get exactly what they want: White Castle burgers. (nevermind the whole “why would anyone crave THOSE?” question) But amidst the pot jokes and stoner humor, there’s a bigger issue: stereotypes.
Take away the weed, and what do you have? An Asian number cruncher and an Indian doctor prodigy are the main characters. (BTW, can you name another American movie with two Asian stars?) You’ve got your office douchebags. Then the extreme punks show up. We visit the Jews down the hall. We check out the Joy Luck club at Princeton. Boy, those extreme punks are everywhere. Then there’s the Indian convenience store owner and the racist, gung ho cop. And don’t forget about the straight Neil Patrick Harris… and then there was the disgusting (and not because he loved) Jesus freak.
So, yeah. That’s a lot of stereotypes. And how did those turn out? The office douchebags ended up being douchebags, and the racist cop was still a racist cop, but what about the others? The extreme punks turned out to be posers. The “lame” Joy Luck club turned out to throw a bumpin’ party. The disgusting guy had the hot wife. A lot of stereotypes were not just broken, but shattered. Even the disgusting “Battleshit” scene… of course it had to be with the two “hot” girls. And the best was Neil Patrick Harris playing… a straight NPH. Think about that one – a gay man playing a straight man with the same bravado as a straight man playing a gay. It’s just so obviously over the top.
And the protagonists, Harold and Kumar? Well they fit their stereotypes, definitely. But, ultimately, what they wanted was to fit their stereotypes WITHOUT being stereotyped themselves. And as an Asian guy who’s good with numbers and at ping pong, I know exactly how they feel.