July 26, 2004

Stormin' the White Castle

HaroldKumarGoToWhiteCastle-photo_04.jpgWhile we admit that we are getting a bit Harold & Kumar'd out at this point (scroll down to see Cinecultist's, er, Gothamist's take on it), we thought we would post this letter that has been filtering through the various Asian American Entertainment email lists that we have somehow gotten ourselves entangled in. From all the good press, Seattle Maggie would swear that Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle was the greatest step for mainstream Asian entertainers since Tamlyn Tomita got to snuggle on film with the Karate Kid (in Part 2, of course). However, we are getting the feeling that all the feel-good vibes might be a little...well, too feel-good to be true. Since when do Asian Americans need to star in silly, frat-boy humor movies to feel normal?

As a practicing Korean American, Seattle Maggie sometimes wishes that more "normal" roles could be given to Asian actors, but we don't lose any sleep over it (we leave that our old high school chum, Angry Asian Man). A great example of this would be Canada's Premiere Korean Actress, our darling Sandra Oh. Indeed, she shines in the entertaining, yet predictable culture clash Double Happiness, but her merits burst into supernova brightness with Last Night, as a young woman facing the literal end of the world. Last Night never directly mentions her ethnicity, which somehow makes it all the more remarkable. She is just a face in the crowd, dealing with the same problems that everyone else is coming to terms with. We love that there are no tired chicken feet jokes, or tedious plotlines about old-fashioned parents, or gratuitous "uptight-Asian-girl-gets-drunk-and-cuts-loose" scenes. And so, we think that perhaps Harold & Kumar might offer the same kind of graceful transition, by letting young Asian guys just be young guys. Silly, yes. Asian, yes. Normal, a big yes. We are totally in line for the opening this weekend.

As for the whole "wacky tobaccy" aspect of the film, which has been discretely glossed over by mainstream journalists, Seattle Maggie remains both tolerant and mildly amused by those who pay homage to the Mighty Weed. While we hope this movie does not revive that ridiculous "Pot Promotes Terrorism" ad campaign, we do not enjoy the stuff ourselves. Most of our experience with the herbage comes from helping our college dorm neighbor to flush his stash down the toilet after he mentioned wanting to cut down on his consumption in a moment of weakness, much to his profound regret the next day when he realized what he had done. Ah, well, to each his own, and as long as no one loses a limb. And now, a word from Harold & Kumar:

Dear Friends, Fans, Haters, Players, and True Money Makers,

Hey! This is Kal Penn (aka Kalpen Modi) and John Cho writing to encourage you to go see our upcoming comedy from New Line Cinema, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," opening nationwide on July 30th. This film marks the first time a major studio is releasing a project with two Asian American males as the leads. We don't have stereotypical accents, we don't passively tread through the story, we're not asexual or hypersexual, there are no martial arts scenes, one-dimensional cab driver segments. We play a couple of all-American guys who happen to be of Indian and Korean descent. Our characters (Harold and Kumar) are post-collegiate buddies who get the munchies and end up going on the adventure of their lives as they set out to satisfy a spontaneous craving for White Castle burgers. Ebert and Roeper just gave our movie "Two Thumbs Up"! We hope you will too. Read on.

The opening weekend for any film is extremely important. Studio executives (the people who make big decisions about movies) track the numbers from that first weekend's ticket sales and make all kinds of decisions based on that data. They decide if they will add more screens to show a film, if they will spend more money in promoting it, if they will start investing in a sequel... but most importantly, they decide if elements of the film work and whether they should do it again. In our case, that means they will be asking, "Will a strong script and story succeed or fail with 2 Asian American guys in non-stereotypical roles?". We personally think it will succeed, but we need your help! This film is our chance to prove that realistic, nonstereotypical depictions can make an audience have a blast, and take in enough money to make this happen in the future.

By buying a ticket to "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle", you aren't just gonna get to see a really funny movie with two dudes who look like you. Nope. You're also going to be saying to media outlets, "I support accurate representation of Asian Americans and would like to see more." You have the power to change things simply by buying a ticket to a film that we believe you'll have fun watching anyway!

Please go to the theaters on the weekend of July 30th, and watch "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle". We look at this awesome opportunity like we do voting in an election. Every movie ticket someone buys is a VOTE, and the cool part is, you're allowed to vote as many times as you want. With your support of the film, we will show decision-makers in Hollywood that supporting movies like these is not only the right thing to do, but is also good business. We'll also show YOU what it's like to ride a cheetah, hang glide off a cliff, pick up a hitchhiking Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser), tell off a bunch of ignorant punks, get love interests, and sing Wilson Phillips at the top of our lungs.

So just hold on for one more... week, and check out the website at www.HaroldandKumar.com. This film opens the weekend of July 30th! Send this email to all of your friends. Throw parties. Order food. Make a night (or weekend) out of it and go see "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle"! This is a landmark opportunity for the Asian American community, and we are proud to be the faces involved. With your support and the success of this film, we hope that it's only the beginning of many more Asian Americans on screen...

Enjoy the movie,

Kal Penn and John Cho
"Kumar" and "Harold"
New Line Cinema's "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle"

Posted by seattle maggie at July 26, 2004 10:53 PM