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Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)

by on 2010/03/29

Nick and Norah is a mystery movie.

The mystery? How the uber-cool porcelain beauty Norah (Kat Dennings) could fall for joyless beige fusspot Nick (Michael Cera).

Unfortunately for the viewers the mystery is never solved.

There are some circumstantial clues in this inexplicable pairing strewn disjointedly throughout the film. Nick mixes a mean post-breakup music compilation complete with die-cut cover art. Despite his depressive mewling, Nick has the support and affection of his charismatic, gay band mates — played compellingly by Aaron Yoo and Rafi Gavron.

While Michael Cera does the drab everyman better than anyone, in this movie his colourless Droopy-impression seems almost mean. Perhaps it is simply my irrational love for Dennings talking here, but I think Norah could do much, much better.

There are other mysteries:

1. Why would Norah continue to be friends with her puke-splattered, Tara Reid-alike BFF Caroline (Ari Graynor)?

2. Why, oh why, don’t they ever throw out Caroline’s gum? Bah. The scene in the Port Authority bathroom returns to me again and again, often just before eating. I’m officially off the Double Bubble after this movie.

Between Nick’s whining about his ex, his vicious ex following Nick and Norah around, his bandmates changing Norah’s bra to an underwire model to make her more pleasing to Nick, Nick’s broken-down rusty Lada, and Nick’s Super Cuts hair style, I found myself questioning why Norah would settle for such a man.

The real standout in this film is the city of New York. You get to take an interesting video tour of the city complete with emo soundtrack as we join Nick and Norah on the search for the band “Where’s Fluffy?” — and an unsuccessful search for Nick’s personality.

And so I say, Norah, you can do better.

* *

Rated PG-13 for coarse language, mature situations, and substance abuse

90 minutes

  1. Hacker Renders permalink

    I had all the same questions and concerns you raised, and I couldn’t agree more with your assessment.

    Throughout the movie I kept thinking the same thing over and over again: Nick hasn’t earned the right to succeed in this story. Adorn him with all the old school alterna-cred decorations you want, but it’s forced and disingenuous. His is not a character I believe in. (He has a “Boys Don’t Cry” ringtone only because the producers think it’s, like, totally old school.) Without giving anything away I felt that he, like most of the characters, deserved a tragic ending.

    He certainly doesn’t deserve Norah whom, the film desperately fails to convince us, is something of a social misfit and repeatedly demeaned for her supposedly homely appearance. The daughter of a music executive, she’s miraculously recognized as a Big Wheel whenever it suits the plot to move. (Now I get an inkling of what a charmed life George Martin’s son, Giles, must lead.)

    If only Kat Dennings had used her clout to force Michael Cera into a series of assignments more dangerous than chugging his jalopy from club to club. By the time I realized the movie was never going to redeem itself, I wished for this gutless Saturday Night Fever to become New York’s Collateral.

    For a real Nick and Nora(h) movie, watch The Thin Man instead.

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