It's been three weeks, two days, and 23 hours since Tris broke up with Nick. And now here she is at his gig, with a new guy. How could she have moved on so fast? This begins the night of Nick, Norah and Manhattan. The night of stripping nuns, hotel ice rooms, Russian food, psychotic ex-boyfriends and lovingly trashy ex-girlfriends. It's the night of Julio and Salvatore. The night of holding hands and writing songs and singing in the rain. It's a night they'll never forget.Written by
The Yugo that Nick drives is the same one that John McClane steals in Die Hard with a Vengence. See more »
Norah punches Nick in the left jugular with her right hand. In the next scene, he is seen pressing on his right jugular with his left hand fingers while he picks up the phone with his right hand. See more »
Also that mix CD... uh that I left on your doorstep was the last one that I'll be making for you.
[CD ejects from computer]
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Teens will appreciate it, but it is doubtful anyone else will
Nick (Michael Cera) is a bit of a mope, being freshly dumped by the girl of his dreams, Tris (Alexis Dziena), and is the only straight guy in an all gay band called 'The Jerkoffs'. Norah (Kat Dennings) is one of those lonely souls, searching for the right person and pines after the Tris' stalkerish ex, who she has never met. By chance, they meet at a club the band is playing at, and then begin a night's adventure searching for a secret concert being put on by their favourite band, Where's Fluffy.
It may not sound like much on paper, but after seeing the trailer for Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, I was kind of hoping for something that would be more than your typical teen flick. And with Cera coming fresh off Superbad and Juno, I could have only hoped that my own hopes would not go unanswered.
Of course, I may have been expecting too much. From the moment the movie starts, it is clearly aiming itself directly for a young teen audience. Yes, the whole idea of being able to search for this mythical band until all hours of the night seems like a bit of a stretch for a normal teen with curfews, but the immature and inexperienced attitude it took about relationships, life and hard drinking seem heavily seated in the realm of a young teenager's fantasies. This is the type of movie I would have been hard pressed to not have enjoyed five or ten years ago, and I imagine most young people feel the same way.
But looking at it as an adult, the film only makes me feel older. It has a very nostalgic aura about it, and a type of innocence that only a person in high school could appreciate. It lacks the real world implications of Juno (or even Dennings' own turn in The 40-Year-Old Virgin), and lacks the all around appeal of Superbad, or even seminal teen flicks like The Breakfast Club or Rebel Without a Cause. So how can one who has experienced the life of a teen, appreciate it when they have moved past that stage in life? Should it not have even made a sheer attempt at being able to be accessed by more than one demographic?
One problem it has is a lack of focus. In 90 minutes, the filmmakers seem to want to throw every sort of issue a 17-year-old might face, from sex, to making adult decisions, to relationships, to understanding life, into a subplot for the main characters to face. And unfortunately, these two characters are not written in a way that makes them able to deal with all of these things. Yes, the dialogue between the two is incredibly awkward, but both Cera and Dennings seem quite able to play it into something that still sounds natural. But this comes at the expense of never quite understanding the full motivations of either character, and merely having a small idea of where either is coming from. Sure, there are glimmers of issues either faces (Dennings' Norah seems to have an orgasm problem, in one very out-of-place subplot), but never more than a hint. By the end of the film, I was still attempting to totally grasp how these two lost souls managed to find each other in the first place (other than for the sake of a fantastical teen romance).
What is worse is that the supporting characters have a bad habit of getting in the way of the two main characters' story. There is an ongoing bit about trying to find Norah's drunk friend Caroline (Ari Graynor), but every scene she has just seems forced and merely placed as a means of padding out a movie that feels too long already. Much the same goes for Nick's gay bandmates Thom (Aaron Yoo) and Dev (Rafi Gavron). Sure they get the most poignant and hilarious moments in the film (alongside their gay friend who is credited merely as "Beefy Guy", and is played by Jonathan B. Wright), but their importance to the film seems a bit skewed. Taking away the fact that their being gay feels more like a gimmick than anything else, all three just seem to have little bearing on the film's events other than to drop hints of wisdom and help search for Caroline and Where's Fluffy. Jay Baruchel, fresh from Tropic Thunder, does okay in a small role as Norah's on and off boyfriend, but he does not get nearly enough screen time to make an impression.
It seems the only person who is right on the money is Dziena. She plays the manipulative and spoiled ex-girlfriend to great effect, and seems to be the only person who wants to be taken seriously by all the non-teens watching the movie. She takes great pleasure inflicting pain on Nick, and her brazen control-freak chemistry with Cera is a particular joy to watch. Sure Cera basically ends up playing the same shay and nervously introverted character he became famous for last year, but Dziena's extroverted, over-the-top performance contrasts it so well that Cera almost comes off as being better than he actually is here.
I think with a little more focus on appealing to all ages instead of just teens, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist could have truly soared as a film. As it stands, it has the makings of a good movie, but not the proper creative output. More development on the main characters, and less scenes with the supporting ones could have only helped make this film great. At least it packs a hell of a good soundtrack.
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