Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is the latest multicultural variant of the lowbrow buddy comedy in which the heroes just want to get high and laid. This strain includes Cheech & Chong's movies, starting with Up in Smoke (1978), and the best of them all, Friday (1995), costarring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker (who gives the most gloriously unregenerate comic performance since Chaplin's short movies of the 1910s).
There are two new aspects here: one is that the Korean Harold and the Hindu Kumar are model minorities. Harold's problem is that everyone assumes since he's Asian he must be a highly-paid number cruncher, and, in fact, he is a junior analyst at a New York investment bank. Not very sexy. And Kumar's problem is having more opportunities to go to med school, and become a surgeon like his father and brother, than he has interest in the practice of medicine.
This is connected to the second new aspect, which is that Harold & Kumar is the first openly assimilationist low comedy. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, born Dino Crocetti and Joseph Levitch, became huge in nightclubs and the movies and on TV in the era of Italian and Jewish assimilation into suburban middle-class America. But Martin played an Italian character only once in their movies, in The Caddy (1953) (in which he sings the excruciating "That's Amore," the "pizza pie" lyrics of which are incomprehensible without reference to the scene in the movie), and Lewis never played a Jewish character.
Harold and Kumar not only are Korean- and Indian-American characters but feel hampered by model-minority stereotypes that are true of them. The point is that normal Asian-American guys are just like normal not-Asian-American guys. Although Harold is Korean he doesn't want to be another nerd in the East Asian Society, or to date the Korean girl his parents would approve of and whom he fears he'll have to marry no matter what he wants. Kumar at least has the nerve to torpedo his father's plans for him, but both of them want into the messed-up, raunchy club they're presumed to be too good for. It's so unfair.
I wish the movie had made more of this irony, that Harold and Kumar pursue downward mobility on a recreational basis, and less of its forced critique of racism. The script actually compares Harold and Kumar's misadventures to the historical treatment of African-Americans, but if the makers had thought about it for three seconds they'd see there can't be any comparison between the "plight" of a boy who doesn't wanted to be herded by his father into top med schools, which are flinging their gates open to matriculate him, and the exclusion of blacks from any but menial occupations.