Friendship: The Harold & Kumar way

   One of the great things about friendship is never having to pretend to be someone you are not.

   This sentiment is gloriously reflected in the high point of Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies (AKA Harold and Kumar go to White Castle) – a pleasingly, outlandish and ridiculous film which has subtle, gentle warmth etched throughout. It's this element which transcends Danny Leiner's absurdist teen comedy head and shoulders above its juvenile peers (Dude, Where's My Car? - a movie by the same director - falls perfectly in this category).

   Whilst much of the marketing for Harold and Kumar focused on the hi-jinx of our young heroes as they end up in one chaotic scenario after the next, combing the night for fast food to satiate their drug-enhanced hunger, the real key to the film lies in the tender relationship between the title characters (and the actors who portray them). So, whilst along the way, our heroes stumble across the drug-addled Neil Patrick Harris, a man with facial boils (the film's lowpoint) and ride cheetahs and hand-gliders with equal young abandon, the real value of Leiner's film is the big-screen representation of friendship, neatly encapsulated in one sub-minute scene.

   In the midst of their mad-cap odyssey our heroes make a getaway in a stolen van previously belonging to loutish youths who thrive in delivering chaos and anarchic violence to everyone who crosses their paths. The music Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) find on board, however, is not at all what they had expected. Female-fronted power ballads blast loudly as our protagonists scoff with vehemence yet, as their journey commences, cynicism melts away to reveal something much more sincere.

   As Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” radiates through the speakers, the energy of the vehicle changes – a momentary shared glance through dewy wide eyes speaks more than words can say and it’s impossible not to mirror Harold’s response when a wry smile takes control of his face, his glee foreshadowing the inevitable. One shrug, a flail of air drums, and they are conspirators – their voices join the music, in semi-unison, and the euphoria of being young, alive and in each other’s company envelopes the scene; its a loving, and surprisingly moving, testament to the power of friendship not often found represented so truthfully in cinema.

   Away from their time together, Harold and Kumar struggle with societal expectations and the insecurities that come with growing up - as they straddle the twilight between youth and adulthood, all they have is each other. Whilst they bellow the chorus to "Hold On", neither has to pretend to be someone they are not - the pressure Kumar faces to become a doctor, for example, melt away as he is free to express himself in a jovial, earnest and buffoonish manner. What his family would think matters not at all in this moment. It's pleasing to think that the original owners of the van, too, share their own fears and dreams with one another and are comfortable enough in each other's presence to listen to remixes of Bonnie Tyler without a care in the world.

   Whilst I've used this quote more than once at The Totality , I think it would be fitting to end on the thoughts given to us by Lester Bangs in Almost Famous: "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool."

No comments

Post a Comment

© The Totality | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig