Fast-food karma can be a bitch. In 1988, McDonald's threw its McBankroll into a ghastly, self- promoting E.T. rip-off called Mac and Me, then finally paid the price earlier this year via Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me. White Castle, the most gastrointestinally incorrect domestic burger chain, bar none, didn't have a damn thing to do with generating the stoner antics of Harold & Kumar (on disc Jan. 4), yet was rightly (if inexplicably) rewarded with salivating in-script adulation. The low-budget summer sleeper—still not quite a bona fide cult happening—details not only the titular protagonists' trippy all-night quest for munchies, but their myriad insecurities as young, urban, Asian and Indian professionals.
You should explore these sub‑ textual subtleties by just watching the DVD and avoiding the copious, annoying extras (the "extreme, unrated" tag is merely an in-joke referencing our heroes' racist, Mountain Dew–lovin' skater-boy adversaries; you can also purchase the plain- vanilla R-rated version). There's a way-too-long mockumentary, "The Art of the Fart," which documents the sound designer's fake quest to mike random bathrooms for just the right "taco shits," which would ultimately comprise H&K's infamous "Battleshits" sequence. The commentaries are mostly unbearable—in one, the screenwriters play to dorko form, overexplaining every joke and dropping insider lingo like "misdirection" and "three-act structure." In another, which may or may not be phony, one of the aforementioned skaters barely breaks character, babbling crassly and endlessly.
Harold & Kumar is solid, smart raunch, and I wouldn't mind if it spawned a franchise, but it's barely clever enough to sustain its own skeleton. Much like White Castle "sliders" under the heat lamp, overexposure is not ideal.
ALSO OUT Jan. 4, Brad Pitt's Troy was a big hit in Europe, we hear, which may also be the future salvation ground for Alexander. The surf documentary Riding Giants may inspire some midwinter trips to Hawaii. Riding in the same tube is the 1964 Ride the Wild Surf, in which Tab Hunter emphatically does not do his own wave work (though Brian Wilson and Jan & Dean wrote the title song).