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The director behind Dude, Where's My Car? updates the brand with two smart ethnic guys in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, and here's the twist: Oh wait, that was the twist. Dude, I am so stoned right now.

Just kidding, but one of the small revelations of this purposefully dumb road flick is that the title characters can light up all they want and still be brilliant. Maybe it's because one is Korean-American and the other Indian-American, and ethnic stereotypes protect them from the fate that befalls Bill and Ted, Jesse and Chester, and you know, other Caucasian morons. It's just these sorts of stereotypes that the film sets out to gleefully uphold or eviscerate as the mood strikes, and one of its major charms.

Its charms, however, are somewhat sporadic. I haven't subjected myself to too many movies like Eurotrip and whatever Tom Green is guesting in, so I don't have the best basis of comparison, but this movie is much smarter than the levels of scatology and puerile homoerotic fascination/fear it allows itself. It's also funnier than that, but not so much that it doesn't leave you hanging a lot of the time. So likeable are the two (especially Kal Penn as Kumar, who is so charismatic I would almost see the film again), that you coast along between laughs on the frozen smile of anticipatory good will.

And you wait, as some unpromising set piece in the slapdash pastiche of their adventures crawls on, thinking, "Funny stuff happened before. It will happen again." And eventually it does, but the film ends up seeming torn between pandering to expectations and doing its own smart thing.

The haphazardness of intent seems to extend to the film's making, or maybe the crew was partaking along with the characters. This movie sets some kind of record for people's heads being pointed in a different direction from one cut to another, and one scene goes from looking like an hour before dawn to five hours after dawn over a cut that is meant to ellipse perhaps five minutes of time at best.

It's that kind of underachieving thatthe movie'sguidance counselor always warned would be its downfall. Still, there's a lot to enjoy, although I think the movie's obsession with calling racists and bullies out on their behavior is probably a waste of breath. I find it hard to imagine that a real-life bully would fail to taunt a real-life pair of ethnic guys with the name of the movie that means to put him straight.

--- Andy Davis

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