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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Night Is Young

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle 
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Plot Overview

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briefcasecomputer disksKorean-American, junior investment analyst Harold Lee (John Cho) and his 22-year-old Indian-American room­mate, med school applicant Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) head out to the ham­burger joint White Castle on a Friday night. Their Jewish neighbors Gold­stein (David Krum­holtz) & Rosen­berg (Eddie Kaye Thomas) head for Hot Dog Heaven. They will encounter various other pairs of fun-seekers, a rowdy bunch of hooligans, and a singleton TV star out to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi. “This night is about the American dream,” declares Kumar.


The American dream is about God-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, so let's look at those. God put Adam & Eve in a sumptuous garden and told them not to eat from a particular tree lest they die. The tempter offered the woman its fruit to make her wise, she ate along with her husband, and here we are. Harold & Kumar watch a short called Marijuana Kills in which one fellow (Christopher Thompson) offers another (Mike Sheer) a joint (“Don't you wanna be cool,”) he takes a toke, gets high and offs himself. Okay.

plowingThe biblical story is widely known of Adam & Eve's temptation and fall in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:6), God responding by increasing the severity of the woman's child­birth pains (Gen. 3:16) and making man's toil onerous (Gen. 3:17-19.) What is less well known—except in places like the Bible Belt—is a redo of sorts to ameliorate man's difficult labor. Noah's father Lamech had (Gen. 5:29) “called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” “H&K go to WC” opens with Kumar being interviewed by Dr. Willoughby (Fred Willard) for admission to his school, and he boasts of his own “wild times” back in med school, which consisted of late night basket­ball games. When he discovers Kumar's wild times include libations, he fails him on the interview. The old fart didn't know how to party the way these two do.

Madonna with
childgood shepherd

care bearWelcomeIn their perambulations our heroes come upon a religiously tricked-out shack in the woods occupied by a May & December couple Randy “Freakshow” (Christopher Meloni) and his lovely wife Liane (Malin Akerman.) They flee when Liane wants to do a three­some with them, and they promise never to mention it. Noah seems to have had an irregularity in his family life, too, which isn't explicitly stated but may be deduced.

In the Genesis account of the Flood, is a mystery woman, the mother of Ham. (Gen. 6:10) “And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Let's look again at Noah's story (Jasher 5:14-17):

And the Lord said unto Noah, Take unto thee a wife, and beget children, for I have seen thee righteous before me in this generation. And thou shalt raise up seed, and thy children with thee, in the midst of the earth; and Noah went and took a wife, and he chose Naamah the daughter of Enoch, and she was five hundred and eighty years old. And Noah was four hundred and ninety-eight years old, when he took Naamah for a wife. And Naamah conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Japheth, saying, God has enlarged me in the earth; and she conceived again and bare a son, and he called his name Shem, saying, God has made me a remnant, to raise up seed in the midst of the earth.

Shem and Japheth were full brothers, Ham was born at a later date (the youngest, see Gen. 9:24) perhaps from a different mother. Noah's wife was older than he was. Perhaps at 580+ years she was no longer able to bear children after the first two. She didn't have any more after the flood even though it was a time to repopulate the earth. Maybe she stopped bearing before the flood. Ham could then have been step­brother of the other two.

Researcher Mark DeWayne Combs posits that, “Although Jasher specific­ally references the births of Japheth and Shem, there is no such reference to the birth of Ham. … that Ham may have been much younger than his brothers and that he may have had a different mother” (389). Combs also observes, “Fathering a child, particularly a son, through a hand­maiden or servant girl would not have been an uncommon or forbidden practice in that time period” (165). Historian Kenneth M. Stampp remarks that “Apologists for slavery traced the history of servitude back to the dawn of civilization and showed that it had always existed in some form until their own day” (14).

CatsJurassic Dinosaurs

pterodactylbrontosaurusNoah survived the flood on an ark with his family and all the representative animals. Harold and Kumar drove off in a car in the rain (“misting”) with a raccoon inside, a cheetah escaped from the zoo prowling the woods, and a hooligan calling like a pterodactyl in a convenience store. His buddy rode a kayak down the aisle.

God destroyed the old world on account of its rampant violence. To keep violence in check after the flood, God instituted capital punishment. (Gen. 9:5) “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.” When there's reports of “gunshots fired,” the police station empties to take care of it.

The ancients still had to follow the earlier template to get a reprieve from their relentless work load. Instead of the forbidden tree to be respected by the first couple, there was old man Noah whose work break was to be respected by his three sons. (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” They formed them­selves into two pairs: the eldest Shem & Japheth, and the youngest Ham paired with his own son Canaan making the numbers even.

Come the deluge and the ark's passengers could well be a model for, (James 5:13) “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” There was undoubtedly a lot of distress on their voyage occasioning a lot of prayer, and their eventual land­fall would have been accompanied by much celebration.

When (Jasher 6:40-41) “they all went out from the ark, they went and returned every one to his way and to his place, and Noah and his sons dwelt in the land.” They'd been cooped up together long enough, so now they spread out some­what according to some prees­tab­­lished pecking order. God (Jasher 6:42) “said unto them, Be fruitful and fill all the earth; become strong.” To become strong meant, among other things, taking their needed meds when sick, along the lines of, (James 5:14) “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Children are always getting sick. Here it seemed to be Canaan's turn whose elders would have been his father Ham and grand­father Noah. Oil in Bible times was a medication as was, (1Tim. 5:23) “Drink[ing] no longer water, but [to] use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” Grapes grow in the summer, but once they're fermented, the wine can be stored through­out the year. Noah got into the store while setting an example for a work break, establishing period(s) of escape from hard work per Lamech's saying. By chance or design it interfered—it had to incon­venience some­one—with Ham's youngest son Canaan's need, and Ham could well have been the low-status brother from another mother.

In the movie we find Harold and Kumar in a hospital disguised as doctors. They get tapped to perform an emergency surgery, and “Doctor” Kumar calls for marijuana as an anesthetic. When they didn't have it, they used nitrous(-oxide), i.e. laughing gas. One medication can work as well as another.

In the Bible instead of the wily serpent we had Noah's wife as an on-the-spot influencer, who since she isn't mentioned, did well incurring no rebuke. She would have made her­self scarce giving Noah some space to relax when he started drinking. Being a virtuous woman (Prov. 31:27) “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” She would not have let grass grow under her feet but would have gone straight to visit Ham to make adjustments regarding their diminished store of medicinal alcohol, to advise him to water down the old supply, or what­ever. Ham showed up shortly there­after to check it out. He fell to temptation by mocking his dad to his two brothers, but they would have none of it. This is parallel to Eve earlier failing first then offering the fruit to Adam who accepted it, but here the older brothers did not go along with Ham, so we'd expect them to receive a blessing rather than a curse such as it was. The distribution of labor had to be readjusted to account for the new workers' fests, and Ham for his insolence left him­self and his family line open to taking up the slack. Depicted below is that same scene rendered in a Civil War vintage wood­cut, made after a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carols­feld (German painter, 1794–1872) from an archive, published in 1877.

drunken Noah and his three sons

The alternate image text by licensor iStock.com/Getty Images explains what happened here to Noah and his fermented grapes: “When he drank some of the wine, he got drunk and uncovered him­self inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. Shem and Japheth took a garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in back­wards and covered up their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father's nakedness (Genesis 9:21-23).” They covered the old man to prevent him from catching a chill as it was no longer summer.

The movie illustrates this modesty when Harold covered his eyes so he wouldn't see Kumar traipsing naked around the apartment, but on the road Kumar objected to a wide-eyed stranger (Jamie Kennedy) sharing his bush to pee on.

Ham had put himself in jeopardy according to, (Prov. 30:17) “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Especially pertinent in this case is Noah's control over the animals including the raven (Gen. 8:7) and he is not unique. Novelist Ted Bell writes of a chief inspector who “had been beaten to within an inch of his life and nearly pecked to death by countless killer ravens. All the while locked inside the cage of a Victorian aviary” (357.) In the movie Harold gets mauled by both the raccoon and the cheetah. There is even biblical precedent for it when some kids mocked a man of God for not having a covering of hair on his head and they got mauled by beasts. (2Kings 2:23-24) “And … as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”

eye trimThere's a parity of eye loss and servitude given in (Exodus 21:26) “And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake.” Ham and his line—represented by Canaan in his lineage—could be given servitude rather than mutilation. This would be in keeping with the sentiment of Job in, (Job 31:7-8) “If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.” In that woodcut-derived picture above we see Ham after disregarding his mom's caution, checking up on his dad, getting carried away by an eyeful of the dishabille inebriate, and gesturing with his hands to his brothers. If he were to “sow, and another eat” and his “off­spring be rooted out,” that would mean he becoming a slave and his off­spring being carried away in slavery. Okay.

The Bible's account leans towards the latter. (Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son [Ham] had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” When Noah woke up, he blessed as a pair the lines of his two respectful sons and cursed Ham's line­—pairing Ham with his youngest son Canaan as was Noah's wont to go by twos—giving them servitude to his other two sons'. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.”

It's as in our movie a couple hungry pairs of habitués went for two different meals: H & K for ham­burgers and the Jewboys for hot dogs. The buns were parallel slices and serial slices of bread respectively. The hamburger has a foundational bottom piece on which is laid ingredients and topped off with another slice lined up with the bottom. Japheth gets to “dwell in the tents of Shem,” i.e. receive the blessings laid on the Semites. The hot dog rests in one piece of bread folded over; it's all of a piece. The determination that Canaan received is the same one that would have come on his father Ham, whose line he is of. It need not have been spoken twice.

Ham's youngest son Canaan is the particularly noted recipient of the punishment. Later when the Israelis invaded the promised land, the Canaanites were due for destruction, but the Gibeonite branch (the Hivites of Joshua 11:19 & Gen. 10:15-17) did a deal with Joshua who was the Jewish leader. They'd heard what happened to other Canaanite tribes, so they sent ambassadors dressed as if they'd come from a long journey (Joshua 9:3-6) and persuaded Joshua to make a league with this “distant” tribe. When it was discovered they'd tricked Joshua into sparing them, (Joshua 9:24-27) he made them bond­men, which was more to their liking. If this trick is indicative of the character of the original Canaan, he might well have been malingering to get out of his chores, which would also help explain Noah's hesitation to coddle him with wine. And when it came time to deal with the sin, it affected the whole line of Ham.

More germane to modern times is perhaps the lineage of Cush, Ham's oldest son (Gen. 10:6,) Cush meaning black in Hebrew, having settled in Africa, some of his to become in later years African-American slaves. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that, “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62).

cop writing ticketIn our movie when Harold goes to jail, he is put in with a black cellmate. Harold asks him, “So what are you in here for?” and he replies, “For being black.” After he explains, Harold asks, “I'm sorry, I don't under­stand how you can be so calm about all this?” He tells him in turn, “I learned a long time ago there's no sense getting all riled up every time a bunch of idiots give you a hard time. In the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should.” Robert H. Bork in Slouching Towards Gomorrah (238) writes:

[Researchers] Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer … quote Charles Murray: “There's hardly a single outcome—black voting rights, access to public accommodation, employment, particularly in white collar jobs—that couldn't have been predicted on the basis of pre-1964 trend lines.” “That's pretty devastating,” the authors say. “It suggests that we have spent trillions of dollars to create an out­come that would have happened even if the govern­ment had done nothing.”

Martin Luther King
Jr.Martin Luther King (MLK) in his Letter From Birmingham Jail penned a litany of complaints, rejected the counsel of “gradualism,” and touted “the fierce urgency of NOW.” He ends his letter with an apology: “If I have said any­thing in this letter that is an over­state­ment of the truth and is indicative of an unreason­able impatience, I beg you to forgive me.” Let's not hold it against him; he was caught up in the fever of his times. For reasons given at length above, God has set limits on right to freedom just he did for right to life.

Lastly, there's the pursuit of happiness. If God were so keen on making it our inalienable right, why did he confuse our tongues at the Tower of Babel in the Bible where he restrains man in his evil desires, limiting our pursuit of happiness by confusing our speech (Gen. 11:5-9)? We'd have a harder time defining our goals to each other that way. Kumar spoke Hindi to the Indian convenience store clerk to get directions to the White Castle. English would not have cut it. Each of the three inalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence has a biblical limit from Genesis, but some are ignored in our politics.

Production Values

” (2004) was directed by Danny Leiner. It was written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. It stars John Cho and Kal Penn. Neil Patrick Harris from the TV show “Doogie Howser M.D.” appeared in a cameo. Also featured were Fred Willard, Anthony Anderson, an uncredited Jamie Kennedy, Ethan Embry, Ryan Reynolds, David Krum­holtz, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Shaun Majumder, Boyd Banks, Paula Garces and Malin Akerman. The leading actors were perfect as a mismatched pair with common goals. Fred Willard played straight man in the part of interviewer Dr. Willoughby.

MPAA rated it R for strong language, sexual content, drug use and some crude humor. There's an unrated version with an extra minute of exposed breasts. Harold & Kumar's apartment building and the White Castle were filmed in Ontario, Canada. The movie is 1½ hours long.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

overwhelming textThis film is a series of feisty vignettes as are the tasty White Castle burgers themselves. I remember ordering a dozen of the little guys when I was a college student in Cincinnati back in the '60s. A group of us from the dorm would go en masse to a fancy White Castle Sunday evening when the cafeteria was closed. Or a couple of us might go to one in the nearby colored section for a study snack. Alas, they don't have White Castles out west where I'm living now. But I did find a store that sells them packaged, and I set up my kitchen utensils to steam them per instructions. I can really relate to these guys going out of their way for them. Nothing's changed except the White Castle in the movie is integrated. Enjoy!

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Male Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, Web.

Bell, Ted. Patriot. Copyright © 2015 by Theodore A. Bell. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Print.

Bork, Robert H. Slouching Towards Gomorrah. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Print.

Combs, Mark DeWayne. End the Beginning. USA: Splinter in the Mind's Eye Pub., 2014. Print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

King Jr., Martin Luther. Letter From Birmingham Jail. 1963. Print.

Stampp, Kenneth M., Professor of American History at the University of California (Berkeley).
   The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. Vintage Books, 1955. Print.