With subplots as numerous as people in New York and faked teenage angst as grating as Michael Cera’s voice, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” ends up being the longest night ever.
Set in New York’s Lower East Side, a place notorious for all-night shows and a thriving independent music scene, the movie chronicles Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah’s (Kat Dennings) first meeting and the night they spend together.
Nick, a sensitive bass player for a queercore band called The Jerk-Offs, has just been dumped by the cold-hearted girl of his dreams, Tris (Alexis Dziena). Tris also happens to be the long-time tormentor of Norah, and when they see each other at Nick’s show, Norah asks Nick to be her boyfriend for five minutes in order to escape Tris’s smug scrutiny. Little does she know that by doing this, she is setting into motion the strange string of events that make up their adventure-filled night, which includes everything from chasing Norah’s wino friend through the streets of New York to Tris doing a strip tease in front of Nick’s car.
The movie is based off of the book of the same name by Rachel Cohn and David Leviathan, and while the book was relatively entertaining, insightful and actually does justice to the New York “indie” scene, the film itself is just the typical Hollywood big-budget, fluffy romance.
“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” strives to be an “underground indie” flick, which is an impossible goal when a film is made by a mainstream company like Columbia Pictures and is distributed to every major theater in the country. Nothing about this film is “independent” at all. There are no stomach-clenching plot twists, quirky characters or fresh filming techniques, just the typical romantic comedy trying to disguise itself as a mass-appeal “artsy” film about New York City hipsters.
The only real “indie” thing about this film would probably be the incredible soundtrack, which includes music by Devendra Banhart, “the king” of freak folk (who also, unfortunately, makes a cameo in the film), collegiate rockers Vampire Weekend and the electro-dance inspired We Are Scientists.
Dennings’ Norah is probably the only character who shines through. With her slightly sardonic manner and offbeat remarks, she is that eccentric, sarcastic girl one people feel like having a good time with. Cera, on the other hand, plays the same boring, formulaic character he is always cast as, the awkward nerd who always ends up getting laid in the end by some unknown, miracle means.
If one wants to watch “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” they are much better off just renting “Juno” Blockbuster, since the name could practically be changed to “Juno 2.” One gets the same Michael Cera performance, but at least “Juno” has prenatal mood swings and hamburger phones, not to mention character.
“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” is now playing in theaters everywhere.
OVERALL GRADE: C-