Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
isn't infinitely entertaining, but it is definitely a cut above the average romantic comedy meant for the teen/college-age audience. It's smart, funny, and sweet. Screenwriter Lorene Scafaria adapted the script from the book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, and the writing feels completely in step with the world of iPod-addicted, text message-loving young adults. What's more, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
never plays down to its target audience as teen-oriented romantic comedies are prone to do.
The plot's pretty straightforward and simple. Nick (Michael Cera) just got dumped by his girlfriend, has to perform with his band (made up of all gay guys except for Nick), and wants desperately to find the secret location of a concert being held by his favorite band. Norah (Kat Dennings) is busy watching out for her incredibly drunk and out-of-control friend while trying to enjoy Nick's band. Nick's ex shows up, puts Norah on the spot, and Norah tries to convince her she's now dating Nick, which of course makes the ex – who believes she's the hottest thing on two legs – super jealous.
Things turn weird when Norah's drunken friend wanders off and Nick, his band, and Norah have to spend the night searching for her instead of the secret concert. As Nick and Norah spend more time in each other's company, romantic feelings begin to surface.
Kat Dennings and Michael Cera have similar acting styles. Neither appear to be doing any acting; they seem to just be doing what comes naturally. Both take a very genuine, very authentic approach to the way they handle their characters.
A scene from 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.'© Screen Gems
Dennings isn't cut from any cookie cutter actress mold. There's something refreshingly different that sets Dennings apart from the horde of young actresses her age, some indefinable quality that makes it easy to connect to whatever character she's playing. And if Cera's doing here what he does in every other feature film (which is basically the same as what he did in the too-soon-cancelled TV series Arrested Development
), that's just fine by me. So what if he hasn't exactly stretched himself yet? I like his geeky, non-threatening, sympathetic characters. Cera's found his niche and he's capitalizing on it while he can. Maybe one of these days he'll play a serial killer or used car salesman, but for now he's got a lock on the patient, suffering boyfriend parts.
Norah's best friend is played by Ari Graynor, an actress I was unfamiliar with but who does a fantastic job at playing drunk. Where's she been hiding? Aaron Yoo and Rafi Gavron play Nick's band mates and do great at the supportive buddy parts. There's also a batch of cameos by familiar faces who contribute some funny lines in super brief bits.
The Bottom Line
The chemistry's there, the story moves swiftly, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
is cleverer than the average romcom. And even though there are exes involved and a fair amount of heartache, Nick and Norah's
never gets sucked down into the lazy 'exes are evil and must be destroyed' plotline that's killed many a romantic comedy. This is a fresh take on teen romance that feels real.
Michael Cera, Ari Graynor and Kat Dennings in 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.'© Screen Gems
Just a word of warning… As much as theater owners are going to hate me for saying this, I'd be remiss if I didn't warn potential ticket buyers to not eat popcorn or any other sort of munchie if they've got weak stomachs for gross-out scenes. There's a running gag about a piece of gum that had me thisclose to - to put it bluntly - losing my lunch. It's a gag-inducing gag that's extremely funny but also pretty sickening.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist was directed by Peter Sollett and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including teen drinking, sexuality, language and crude behavior.
Theatrical Release Date: October 3, 2008