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August 10, 2010

Pick of the Week: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" - 2008

This week's pick is something simple and lighthearted, and admittedly in anticipation for the opening of Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," starring Michael Cera and hitting theaters this Friday (expect a review soon after).

"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" is based off the novel of the same name by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. The story centers around northern New Jersey suburban kids who love to explore New York City by night and linger around the indie rock music scene. Michael Cera ("Superbad," "Juno") plays Nick, a nice guy who's hung up on his ex, Tris. Though the relationship has been over, she has a lasting hold on him. As she laughingly throws out the mix cds he makes for her as a pathetic attempt to get her back, acquaintance Norah, played by Kat Dennings ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Charlie Bartlett"), picks them up and has a connection to a person she's never met, but who has stunningly similar musical tastes. When the members of Nick's band, The Jerk Offs, get him to play a show in the city on the hope that they'll find their favorite band, Where's Fluffy, playing a secret after-hours show. The same secret show attracts Tris, Norah and their friend, the ever-partying Caroline, to the city that never sleeps as well.

When everyone ends up in the same place, Norah asks Nick, who she thinks is a complete stranger, to pretend to be her boyfriend for five minutes so Tris thinks Norah isn't spending another night alone. When Tris sees Nick and Norah lock lips, her natural jealousy kicks in. The night goes on to be one awkward and frustrating moment after another as Norah tries to get drunk Caroline home safely, Nick's band tries to get he and Norah together, Norah tries to get Nick to stop talking about Tris and Tris tries to get Nick to notice her again. Meanwhile, everyone is trying to find Where's Fluffy, and no one seems to run out of things to do in this city.

First of all, Where's Fluffy is not a real band. In fact, other than the indie rock soundtrack, not many actually bands are named in the film. At moments you feel like you're just getting a walk through of the hipster indie culture of a city like New York full of kids from the suburbs who flock to the nightlife where they can roam free. I have not experienced much of the New York City nightlife, but I find it hard to believe these high school kids are getting served alcohol at clubs. The tenuous scenes between Nick and Norah make you wonder what they really see in each other? They argue most of the time, and eventually just click. Really, they should be together, but it's almost too obvious for the two of them not to figure it out sooner. Nick's band, made up of Thom and Dev, who are both gay, are some of the driving comedic force of the film. That and drunk Caroline as she wanders around the city unattended. It's suggested that this is just a normal Friday night for these kids, and it makes someone like me who went to high school in an area devoid of such late night opportunities very jealous. That's the audience attracted to this story. There are kids who live their weekends like this, but in their case such a story doesn't appeal to them.

Nick's character is what we've come to expect from Michael Cera. Dry delivery of awkward comedic lines, the nice guy persona and an innocent demeanor. However, Nick is a slightly more confident character than we're used to see Cera playing. Norah is the girl we all know. She's not the most attractive, sought-after girl, but she's intelligent, clever and unique. She's the opposite of Tris, and exactly what Nick really wants. Their relationship evolves in a pretty predictable way. Certain plot points, like Norah's need to decide between a career and college by the next day, is just too ridiculous. It's not the most original story, but it's fun and entertaining. There's a heart to it, suggesting that maybe all hope is not lost for younger generations, whether that's musically, romantically or intellectually.

"That's what everybody wants, Nicky. They don't want a twenty-four-hour hump sesh, they don't want to be married to you for a hundred years. They just want to hold your hand."


1 comment:

  1. I need to watch this again. Also, fantastic quote choice there at the end.