Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Another high school comedy;
yeah, that’s what this world needs. I approached this with about as much
enthusiasm as if I were attending another Will Ferrell film. But to my
surprise, director Peter Sollett and lead actress Kat Dennings have come
up with an entertaining light romantic comedy.
The simple story is that
Nick (Michael Cera of “Juno”) has been dumped by his longtime girl
friend, Tris (Alexis Dziena). He is the only straight player in a gay
band. One night they go to play at a spot and Tris shows up with her new
boyfriend. So does Norah (Dennings). At the urging of his gay bandmates,
Nick and Norah hook up. The McGuffin is that Norah’s friend, Caroline (Ari
Graynor), gets drunk, then lost, so Nick and Norah go looking for her
and the locale of a hot new band. In the process they slowly fall for
Even though it is
entertaining, that’s not to say it doesn’t raise issues. All these
people are teenagers in high school. Yet they all stay out all night.
There isn’t a parent in sight. As I said, Caroline gets drunk.
Unprotected copulation seems rampant. Is this an accurate reflection of
today’s teenagers? Is there no parental supervision?
There are also some
unnecessary gross-outs, apparently to appeal to the teenage intellect,
like a piece of gum that gets chewed by most of the characters before
the movie ends, and a vomiting scene that I could have done without.
Most adults with a registerable IQ will probably find these scenes as
off-putting as did I. I saw this with real people, not at a screening,
and even my audience groaned at several scenes involving Caroline and
These scenes shouldn’t be
enough to keep adults away from this film, however, because in the end
it is a sweet romantic comedy, greatly buttressed by an exceptional
understated performance by Dennings. In fact the film only sings when
Dennings is onscreen. Although Dziena gives a good performance as the
spoiled princess, this film belongs to Dennings. Cera is the lead actor,
but he is just repeating his role from “Juno” as the nerd who for some
unknown reason is found extraordinarily attractive by women who look
like movie stars.
There is one factual boner
that should be mentioned. A cell phone is dropped into water and
retrieved, after which it works perfectly. I am aware of no cell phone
that can be immersed in water without being rendered totally unworkable
and unfixable. You drop a cell phone in water, you get a new cell phone.
My final criticism is the
age of the actresses playing these teenagers. Since they are all in high
school, they should be no older than 18 years-old. Yet Dennings is 22,
Graynor 25, and Dziena 24. Aren’t there any teenaged actresses alive any
more? Or do the filmmakers want to make sure they look like they are old
enough to be as sexually mature and active as the characters they create
are? Could it be that showing actual 17- and 18-year old girls, who look
their age, so sexually active and promiscuous might not be as palatable
to a middle-aged audience?
The sound track is filled
with rock music by groups with names that most adults won’t recognize
but will probably appeal to the teenagers who might find the grossness
amusing. Unlike the grossness, the music isn’t bad.
October 4, 2008