Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is a late-teen romantic comedy equal parts Superbad and Bridget Jones's Diary. Nick (Michael Cera) is a soft-spoken alt-kid who plays bass in a band that can't decide on a name; his girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena) broke up with him a month ago, and he's spent the days in between making her one brilliant mixtape after another that she doesn't appreciate. Norah (Kat Dennings) is a classmate of Tris', confused about how to escape the shadow of her rock-legend father; she has a secret crush on the man behind the mixes Tris tosses, even though she's never met him. As happenstance would have it, the pair collides after one of Nick's Manhattan gigs. Desperate to put an end to Tris' taunting about her singledom, Norah claims she actually came with someone, grabs Nick, and asks him to just deal with making out with her. Sparks instantly fly, and the two, along with their friends, begin a night-long quest to find love, purpose, and a mysterious band called Where's Bunny? that hops back and forth across the city for secret shows.
At just under 90 minutes, Nick and Norah couldn't possibly feel long, but it's difficult not to feel tired by the time the credits roll. The characters bounce around Manhattan for close to nine hours, a roller-coaster ride of adventures and emotional highs and lows--including a string of celebrity cameos and a rather creative sexual encounter in a recording studio. Director Peter Sollett wisely avoids going puerile with the jokes (except a hilarious vomit-filled toilet sequence), opting for a more mature and sometimes even magical tone to support screenwriter Lorene Scafaria's adaptation of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's novel. New York rarely feels as fantastical as it does here; it's a world where teenagers never have trouble ordering a beer, never wait in club lines, and, best of all, never have trouble parking in the parking-nightmare capital of the world. Nick's vanload of gay friends adds to the fairy-tale quality, playing fairy godmothers of a sort. You can't help but feel anything is possible for Nick, Norah, and everyone they come in contact with.
Cera manages to show more range than we've seen from him, and Dennings makes herself the quiet center of every scene so that it's easy to understand why Nick gravitates to her. An unbeatable soundtrack, featuring bands such as Vampire Weekend and the Shout Out Louds, does whatever heavy emotional lifting they can't swing. Nick and Norah's is a hipster rom-com, but thankfully doesn't take itself as seriously as hipsters do themselves.