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Arts & Culture

Hey Dude, It's Harold and Kumar on DVD and Blu Ray

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Now I discussed the notion of pot comedies earlier and Harold and Kumar is most definitely a pot comedy. Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke is probably the mother of all pot comedies (I'd include Reefer Madness but its humor was unintentional) and Harold and Kumar represents the new generation. Escape from Guantanamo Bay is less of a pot comedy than Go to White Castle . Not only because the search for pot is less prominent but also because the tone is a little... and mind you I'm talking just a very little... bit more serious. After all finding a White Castle burger is much lighter fare than getting sent to Guantanamo Bay as a terrorist. But have no fear, good-natured comic anarchy still reigns.

Harold and Kumar deal with security at the airport (Warner Brothers)

Escape From Guantanamo Bay begins literally moments after White Castle ended. Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) decide to pack up and head for Amsterdam in pursuit of Harold's dream girl. But a trip to the airport provokes a random search that Kumar deftly deflects by accusing the security guard of racial profiling. Kumar declares, "So long as I have freedom of speech, I won't get pushed around." I think what he meant was so long as I can bulls-t my way out of a jam, I will. But When Kumar lights up a bong on the plane, he and Kumar get arrested as terrorists and are sent to Guantanamo. As the title implies, they escape and trek through a good section of the U.S. on their way to Texas where they hope an old classmate will help them out, and where Kumar hopes to disrupt the wedding of his one true love. Along the way they hook up with Dubbya, who runs and hides from Dick Cheney and shares some killer weed with the boys. There's also a flashback where we get to see an uptight, hard-studying Kumar, and a punked out, emo Harold.

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Now only a pot comedy would conceive of turning George W. into a goofy, dare I say even likable pothead who's afraid of his dad and Dick Cheney. But that's the thing about pot comedies; things just have a way of working out, and most people are okay if you just give them a chance. There's an episode of the Brit-com Spaced (from the Shaun of the Dead guys Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright) where everything just falls happily in place by the end of the show with missing keys and a runaway dog just showing up on the doorstep of the main characters, just in time for a happy ending. And that's what pot comedies preach - just relax, things will be okay.

Another key component to a pot comedy is lack of respect for authority and established order. So naturally the government and its bureaucrats come out looking like idiots. There's a hilarious interrogation scene in which Harold's parents speak perfect English but the government interpreter looks blankly at them and says he doesn't understand their strange dialect. The film wreaks havoc with all kinds of stereotypes, and delivers another big laugh on the plane as a prim old lady looks at Kumar and sees a turbaned terrorist ready to crash the plane.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (on DVD and Blu Ray July 29) is loaded with fun bonus features including a Dude, Change the Movie where you can see what would have happened if Kumar hadn't lit up the bong on the plane. There are also deleted scenes (many of which are actually funny) and commentary tracks. While some may take offense at making fun of such serious issues as terrorism, Harold and Kumar simply suggests that anything can be funny if you just consider the potential absurdity of any situation. Filmmakers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have a good-natured, sometimes gross but always goofy sense of humor that proves appealingly funny even if you're not stoned.

Companion viewing: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Up in Smoke, Garden State