Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)

The next movie that I have decided to review is a different one. It didn’t make as big of a splash at the box office as other movies, it wasn’t an award winning movie, and stars quite possibly the most disliked actor today. But, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist kind of holds a special place in my heart; it was a movie that reminds me of my last relationship; just two young kids bonding over music. Of course, the relationship ended a few months after we watched the movie, but I haven’t let this cloud my perception of the film. It’s a flawed film; many films are, but I enjoyed it.

Right away, you can tell that the filmmaker’s were going for a Juno vibe. The first person you see is one of the film’s co-stars, Michael Cera. There is a partially animated opening credits-sequence with similar font. The soundtrack is comprised of seemingly every band deemed “Best New Music” on Pitchfork.com, and a couple of these artists appear in the film (Devendra Banhart and Bishop Allen). It even has Diablo Cody style wannabe dialogue that you can’t imagine anyone would say in real life. Perhaps that is a reason why the film didn’t do as well at the box-office as it should have.

Cera plays Nick, the only straight member of the queercore band The Jerk-Off’s. At the start of the movie he has been dumped by his girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena), who, as revealed later, has been cheating on him for their entire relationship. Nick still hasn’t gotten over the relationship, and keeps making mix-CD’s for Tris. She doesn’t appreciate them. Norah (Kat Dennings), thinks Nick is the coolest guy ever based solely on his music taste. The two of them meet by accident at the Jerk-Off’s show after Norah asks Nick to pretend to be her boyfriend for five minutes. Both Nick and Norah’s group become intertwined over the course of the evening, searching for a mysterious band, and Norah’s drunken friend Caroline (Ari Graynor), while avoiding the temptations of their former flames (Jay Baruchel plays Norah’s on and off boyfriend who uses her for her connections), and their latent feelings for each other.

I know it is the cool thing to hate Michael Cera these days. He has played the same basic character since Arrested Development, and he is dangerously close to the overexposure that ruined Jon Heder’s career. Though to be fair, I don’t think he has a lot of say in the scripts that he is offered, and opinion on him could change when Scott Pilgrim is released in theatres this summer. Still, there are few young actors who can pull off the nerdy, awkward guy with the dry sense of humor like he can (Jesse Eisenberg is the closest in my opinion). Kat Dennings should be a bigger star than she is right now. Her and Cera have great chemistry together, a feature that is lacking in many romantic comedies these days.

The movie is lively, fitting for its subject matter. When watching it, it feels like one of those wild nights you spend with friends running around the city. The dialogue, while awkward in spots, feels more authentic than anything Diablo Cody has written. I can actually believe that people would talk this way, which I didn’t feel while watching Juno. The movie, while not completely approaching the level of one, felt like a John Hughes style comedy, focused more on emotion and authenticity, rather than cheap sight gags (though there is the matter of that gum…)

Finally, I feel that I need to address the supporting performances, specifically Thom and Dev, Nick’s band mates; hats off to the filmmaker’s for presenting gay characters as real human beings. They never feel stereotypical, or have scenes that say “Look at them! They’re gay and wacky!” I’m getting sick of the gay friend stock character that talks with a lisp and doles out relationship advice.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is based around a formula. You know how it is going to end, but it’s all about the ride. It is an injection of heart into a standard story. It isn’t the greatest movie in the world, but it never fails to leave a smile on my face.

1 comment:

  1. Wondering if you have read the book? If not, it is by Daniel Levithan. Another really good book by Levithan is "Boy Meets Boy." It's a young adult novel, but it is just adorable