If you grew up in New Jersey on a diet of White Castle burgers and Cheech and Chong movies $#150; as did this reviewer $#150; it's practically a genetic certainty that you'll be drawn to this modern-day stoner comedy. And about half the time, suspending your subsequently learned suspicion of the genre proves worth it. Stars John Cho (inhibited workaholic Harold) and Kal Penn (hard-core hedonist Kumar) display radiant charisma as their characters undertake an all-night, cannabis-fueled quest for the little square hamburgers that invited a world to "eat 'em by the sack."
Often, the boys' misadventures attain a farcical perpetual motion that's as funny as anything playing out on today's movie screens. But it's simply maddening how often such inspired passages give way to toilet dalliances and other cheap shots, exposing the movie's craven need to keep its hand in the youth-film cesspool. Grounding it all in "reality" is a running excoriation of anti-Asian bigotry that seems pretty darn daring for a pursuit like pot cinema ... until you remember that Cheech and Chong were Mexican and Chinese to begin with. I guess we've just learned to think of them as all-American.