I'm trying to separate the experience of watching the movie Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist from the experience of reading the book. In truth, the two bear only a few similarities and I enjoyed the book more than the movie. Still, as a standalone piece of entertainment, the movie version is fun and silly and adorable, mostly due to the great cast. At the heart of what's so likable about it are Nick and Norah themselves, two precocious, creative, music-loving teens who spend a wacky night in New York City together, both learning to grow beyond their past relationships and into something that feels exciting and right. Ah, young love. Is there anything sweeter?
If there is, it's Michael Cera's cute little face. He plays Nick, a funny, self-deprecating young man who is the sole straight guy in his band. He's struggling to get over his ex, Tris (Alexis Dziena), when he meets Norah (Kat Dennings), a droll, witty girl who shares Nick's love for a band called Where's Fluffy? Nick and Norah have an immediate connection and Nick's bandmates, sensing the possibility for Nick to forget Tris, offer to take Norah's drunk friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) home, and send Norah off with Nick in his yellow, beat-up Yugo. Things go awry, of course: Caroline runs away from Nick's friends, Nick and Norah have a fight, Tris becomes jealous and follows Nick around the city, and Norah's sort-of-ex-boyfriend Tal (Jay Baruchel) keeps making Norah feel conflicted. Through it all, these cool, indie teens are trying to figure out where Where's Fluffy? is playing their secret show in New York. For my thoughts on all this, read more.
I'm not totally fond of the meandering story arcs, and at times the plot seems sort of oddly smushed together. But at the same time, this movie is an unusual addition to the ordinary movie offerings (the blockbuster, the dramatic weepie, the raunchy comedy, etc.). Here we have two kids who are different from the cookie-cutter teens — and they're proud of this. They love all kinds of music and have adventures in New York that don't include shopping for couture. Their friends are kooky, funny musicians, most of whom are gay. There's no angst over these things (being "individuals" among "the normals," etc.), but there is angst about those basic insecurities people feel when they find new love.
It's your cute, simple boy-meets-girl romance — but with a uniquely modern twist.
Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures