The Box Office Gets Stoned on Harold and Kumar

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Enjoy the quiet. When the summer blasts off Friday with Iron Man, box-office grosses will start tripling and quadrupling the norm. For now, toke on this: The guy audience this weekend headed to Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the stoner farce which took in $14. 6 million. That's like, wow, man, since the first movie, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle could barely smoke out a $5.5 million opening back in 2004. The power of DVD, dude. Repeat viewings at home have turned H&K into icons. OK, the boys didn't beat Baby Mama, which took in $18.3 million from chicks, young and old. But for a movie that only cost $12 million to cobble together, the only word — I borrowed it from Kumar — is "congratu-fuckin'-lations!" And with last week's Forgetting Sarah Marshall showing a solid hold with another $11 million, the guys have it at the box office.

Critics bitched that the H&K sequel is crass, stupid and bereft of redeeming social value. Gee, ya think? It's not that wannabe banker Harold Lee (John Cho) and medical genius in his own mind Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) are meant to represent the Americanization of Korea and India. Or are they? In the first film, all Harold and Kumar wanted was a couple of White Castle burgers to satisfy their munchies. Now — only a day or two has passed in movie time — they want more of the demon weed that gave them the munchies in the first place. Trouble starts when Kumar lights up on the plane and the passengers hear "bomb" instead of "bong." So it's off to Gitmo, where they're jailed as terrorists and escape just before the guards can force them — homophobia alert! — to suck down a "man sandwich."

If I'm not making sense, neither does the movie. My favorite parts are Neil Patrick Harris playing himself as a sex-crazed ego-maniac and James Adomian impersonating George W. Bush on a contact high. You go with it or you don't go near it. I went with it. If you want to join the debate about whether the original is better than the sequel, or vice versa, now's the time. Do H&K have the stuff to go a few more movie rounds or will they be a Cheech and Chong trivia question in the next decade?

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