Directed by: Peter Sollett
Premise: Nick (Michael Cera), a recently single musician, and Norah (Kat Dennings), a “frenemy” of Nick’s ex-girlfriend, meet by circumstance and begin a romance while searching the streets of New York for Norah’s lost and intoxicated friend (Ari Graynor).
What Works: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a very sweet movie. The romance between the two works a lot better than most romantic comedies and the two actors are able to reach an authentic level of intimacy without getting sloppy with sentimentality. The film is full of sarcasm and dry wit that Cera delivers in his usual underplayed style. Of the two, Dennings is the one who really shines as the script gives her the most to do and she is an effectively subtle actress, allowing the highs and lows of the night to play across her face, and especially in her eyes. It is Ari Graynor, however, who delivers most of the comic relief as she drunkenly stumbles around New York making unintelligible phone calls and randomly vomiting on everything. Even though the film runs a little too long, the story is actually very well assembled with lots of unity and parallel tasks and challenges placed before Nick and Norah, splitting them up and then drawing them back together.
What Doesn’t: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist does have a few problems that nag at the viewer. First off, the main characters are all supposed to be high school students but they all speak, look, and act very much like college-age adults. Also, the film relies a lot on coincidence, as characters are separated and then reunite at the convenience of the story. Anyone who has tried to find another person in a shopping mall knows that you practically need GPS to locate him or her, but somehow the characters of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist are able to find their friends at night on the streets of New York City. Lastly, Michael Cera is up to his usual routine and plays essentially the same character he played in Juno, which is the same character he played in Superbad, which is the same character he played in Arrested Development. Like those other projects he’s funny and does well with the dialogue but the awkward sweetness routine is getting old.
Bottom Line: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a sweet date movie. It’s too much to say that this is When Harry Met Sally or American Graffiti for the ipod generation and the movie is fairly derivative. But it does have some great characters and gives its love story enough twists and turns to make it a very satisfying viewing.
Episode: #209 (October 19, 2008)