Harold & Kumar Get Baked on Christmas, Go to Lil' Woody's"/>
Courtesy New Line Cinema.
The Dinner: A Big Woody bacon cheeseburger and Crack fries with a Molly Moon root beer float at Lil' Woody's ,>"/>
Courtesy New Line Cinema.
The Dinner: A Big Woody bacon cheeseburger and Crack fries with a Molly Moon root beer float at Lil' Woody's, 1211 Pine St, 659-0737, CAPITOL HILL.
The Screenplate: What a lot of critics and closet fans won't admit is that Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle was actually a solidly structured film, particularly compared to other stoner comedies. Harold and Kumar were two charming, well-developed characters that were different enough for their journey to be dramatic, but similar enough for you want them to succeed with their friendship intact. They had a concrete goal (as mundane as it seems to the non-toked), and they followed it through to the end of the film as they learned truths about themselves while surmounting every obstacle that came in their path. It was pretty much a boilerplate hero's journey, not ever really succumbing to the wandering, A.D.D. stereotypes of their supposed audience.
Meanwhile, Harold and Kumar Go to Guantanamo Bay was a pretty big trainwreck. While it had plenty of the wacky secondary characters and pot jokes that made the first one fun, it was a just an amorphous mess of a story that seemed more like a collection of skits than a real film. As a result, while you still liked Harold and Kumar in cariacture form, you didn't get nearly the same feeling of growth or humanity from the characters as you did from the first.
It seems pretty ironic that a Christmas edition of the series would be the one to get the stoner duo back on track as being able to accept the two as real characters again, particularly as the franchise simultaneously jumps onto the 3D bandwagon just a little too late.
It's similarly unexpected that out of all the numerous new DIY burger joints in Seattle, the one that shared its name with a dick joke would be the one that served up the most substantive, quality hunks of meat. Then again, when you think about it, great Seattle burgers and cock gags have a pretty prolific history together -- a proud legacy that Lil Woody's doesn't appear to endanger in the least, and may even champion as In and Out creeps up on our fair city.
It wouldn't be a proper burger joint without some enticing, creative sides -- nor would it be a proper Harold and Kumar flick. First and foremost, I love whatever warmhearted person or event came through so that Danny Trejo could start getting parts besides "ominous, but soon-to-be-dead henchman," because he's been all over the place the past couple of years and I haven't seen a single thing he was involved in that wasn't better for it. Here Trejo trades in his gatling gun for a Christmas sweater, perfectly confident in his ability to chew scenery while armed only with the soulcrushing glare of disapproval that only a father-in-law can evoke.
Also rounding up the back is CollegeHumor.com writer Amir Blumenfeld's impressive screen debut as Kumar's sub-slacker roommate, Patton Oswalt's rendition of a pot-dealing mall Santa and RZA, who also decided to show up for awhile. And of course, Neil Patrick Harris returns to the franchise with yet another wholly over-the-top performance as himself, the nigh-immortal crack addict, this time to claim his recent coming out of the closet was a just ruse to score more chicks (advised personally by Clay Aiken, natch). There's also a robot who makes waffles.
Similarly, Lil' Woody's have got their side orders down pat. A lot of that has to do with a partnership with local ice cream overlords Molly Moon, allowing them to serve fresh milkshakes, root beer floats and, of course, a healthy variety of crack.
While sides are nice, the key to a successful comedy or burger joint lies in the meat. Where Harold and Kumar offered a streamlined story with constantly defined stakes, Lil' Woody's relies on Painted Hills for the ? lb. burger and two strips of bacon key to it's Big Woody, the Lil' Woody's Battleship of entrees. Framed with a delightfully pliant bun, Tillamook Cheddar Cheese, chopped onions and pickles, The Big Woody really is a distinctly satisfying addition to Seattle's burger hall of fame.
There are, of course, problems. At least, there were with Harold and Kumar. There is an almost religious infatuation with the idea of "growing up" that the film never seems to want to coherently define or even subvert. It's obvious that the movie wants us to be happy that both characters have grown from the beginning, but it's really hard to get a grasp on exactly what it is about Harold or Kumar needed to change to fit inside of the slapstick world they inhabit. As far as I can tell, "growing up" mainly consists of pledging yourself fully to a smoking hot plot device like Paula Garces or Danneel Harris, devoting them both just enough screen time to get an ass shot or a crude joke, then promising to love them both at some point in the next film.
Babies also appear to be brought up as the ultimate trigger for adulthood through most of the film, but the only real peek at actual childrearing we get is through a superhuman baby that manages to get stoned, huff cocaine and take ecstasy before the end of the film's 89-minute run time. Maybe I'm just making too much about what is a pretty natural progression of The Odd Couple dynamic, but there's an unavoidable awkwardness to a movie that so constantly extols the virtues of family living, even after shooting Santa Claus in the head with a shotgun.
Lil' Woody's contribution to the maturation of the modern burger joint is far less problematic, its quaintly narrow rustic chic decor offering not just tasty takeout, but a vibrant hangout more than welcome to the very brink of Capitol Hill. And while it isn't exactly neck-and-neck with A Christmas Story when it comes to being mandatory holiday programming (probably the reason it was released at the very beginning of November), A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas is a fun, feelgood testament to wild nights and enduring friendships that make life bearable no matter what your age.