Before Harold and Kumar had become stereotypes for stoner comedies, this movie quietly came along and surprised everybody with its clever and unusual humour. Nobody had heard of Kal Penn and John Cho yet.
The movie played on this in the opening, making you think it's going to be typically about two white guys heading out for a party weekend. One of the two white guys was Ethan Embry, who'd already done that kind of movie (Can't Hardly Wait) creating the perfect illusion. However, the two white guys pawn off their work on the office's token Asian guy, and suddenly the movie veers off to follow Harold and Kumar.
Harold and Kumar are two smart guys, stoner roomates, who get the munchies. They want "something different...something we haven't had in a while. Something that'll really hit the spot." They make a trip out to White Castle. But White Castle has closed and been replaced by "Burger Shack"! (Actually a Burger King on Queensway Ave in Toronto, if you know the area you will recognize the spot!)
What follows is a series of misadventures that get more and more ridiculous as the movie goes on. Harold and Kumar are constantly harassed by a bunch of "Extreme Sports Punks" (credited as such and even referred to as such in dialogue in the film). They encounter racist cops, Malin Ackerman, a capitolist hippy drug dealer, a jaguar, and Neil Patrick Harris as Neil Patrick Harris. Anything that can go wrong, does go wrong.
What made this movie different and cute was its inventive lampooning of stereotypes. At the time it was rare to see two minorities in the lead roles, and the movie played this up. The jail scene where a man was arrested because he was black is a classic and unusual in a comedy of this nature.
However there's plenty of lowbrow laughs too. The Asian party ("Who wants some Buddha!") is hilarious for playing up the stereotypes and then blasting them into obliveon. And then there's Freakshow. House of 1000 Corpses had Baby Firefly and Otis P. Driftwood...this movie has Malin Ackerman and Freakshow!
The audio commentary track is funny and extremely watchable, and other DVD extras are funny and cool. I personally can put on Harold and Kumar on any Friday night when I want something something different...something I haven't had in a while. Something that'll really hit the spot. I can always rely on Harold and Kumar. It's still fresh, years later.
Oh, and what happens to Neil Patrick Harris? You'll have to watch to find out.