Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (PG-13)
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This is apparently based on a book which I've never heard of. But anyway, why did I want to see it? The main reason is because... I like the title. See, I have this fantasy of loaning a girl my mp3 player, having her listen to all the songs on it and because of that, possibly falling in love with me. Which is ridiculous, of course. But, you know, nothing's more important to me than entertainment, including music. So I just thought, if I had some music she'd never heard, but loved as soon as she did, hey. What does that say about me? About us? Compatible, no? And I'd be a kind of hero for introducing her to the stuff. But whatevs. The title of this movie made me think of that type of scenario... two people meeting, maybe exchanging mp3 players, listening to each other's music, falling in love. But of course, that has nothing whatsoever to do with what the movie's actually about. Practically. But what it is about is still wicked cool. (Oh yeah, and the second reason I wanted to see the movie is that it stars Michael Cera, the prince of "so uncool he's cool," whom you might know from such things as Arrested Development and Juno.)
Anyway. Cera plays this high schooler named Nick, who's in a band with a couple of guys named Thom and Dev (Nick is the only straight one of the three). The band is called the Jerk-Offs, though they continually think about changing the name to other things. Anyway, Nick is heartbroken over having been dumped by his girlfriend, Tris (Alexis Dziena), and he keeps making her mix CDs, which she just throws away without listening to. But her friend (or rather frienemy) Norah (Kat Dennings) always picks them out of the trash. She's never met Nick, but she loves his taste in music. Um... and Norah has another friend named Caroline, who is friends with Tris. (I gather the three of them used to be closer when they were younger.)
Thom and Dev want Nick to play a gig with them one night, hoping he'll get over Tris, but he's not in the mood... until he learns that his favorite band, Where's Fluffy, is supposedly going to be playing one of their legendary secret gigs somewhere in the city that night. (Btw, a lot of movies will be set in a particular city, often New York- as this one is- and it doesn't really make much of a difference to me. But this movie really made me feel like the city was important, like the characters really, you know lived there, or at least spent enough time there to be intimately familiar with the various locales throughout the city. Even if they're actually from New Jersey- Nick's from Hoboken, Norah and her friends from Englewood. But New York City is definitely one of the characters in the movie.) Anyway, Norah and Caroline go to a club that night planning to look for Fluffy, themselves, and it happens to be the club where the Jerk-Offs are playing. (Several bands are playing there, that night, so each gig is pretty short.) Tris is also there, with some college guy named Gary, who is of no real importance to the story (and Tris certainly doesn't give any indication that she gives a crap about him), but his presence does sort of act as a catalyst in a conversation Tris has with Norah, which makes her lie about having a boyfriend, and she goes off and kisses Nick, unaware that he's Tris's ex. This, apparently, makes Tris interested in Nick again, herself.
Meanwhile, Caroline, as usual, has gotten drunk, so Norah has to get her home. But Thom and Dev think Norah is just the person to get Nick over Tris, so they agree to take Caroline home in their van (along with this guy Dev picked up at the club, whom they just call "Beefy Guy"), while Nick and Norah roam the city in his clunker of a Yugo (which people keep mistaking for a cab, incidentally). They're supposed to be looking for Where's Fluffy, but meanwhile, they get to know each other, and find they have a lot in common... or, you know, at least a common taste in music. But anyway, things get complicated when Caroline escapes from the van, thinking she'd been kidnapped, so everyone has to look for her (even while still hoping to find Fluffy). Another complication arises in the form of Tal (Jay Baruchel), who is sort of Norah's "friend with benefits," though she doesn't really seem to like him. And eventually we realize something about him that... I won't spoil, but it ties into something about Norah, which... is an interesting background point about her character, for various reasons. But anyway... Tal is just a douche (which is not a word I use often). Oh, and like I said earlier, Tris's feelings for Nick have been revived, and even while he was getting to like Norah, he still wasn't totally over Tris, so... yeah. Complicated, all around. But, all the various plot threads eventually work themselves out....
Anyway. The movie has a nice flow to it, lots of great music, all the characters are fun, Nick and Norah have good chemistry, it's all very cute and funny and quirky and sort of grungily sweet. The only thing about which I have mixed feelings is Caroline's gum, which... gets around. And it becomes about the most disgusting thing ever, but still, even that is kind of funny.... Oh yeah, and if you get the DVD, you definitely gotta watch some of the special features, most notably the puppet show by Kat Dennings, and the faux interview. Hilarious stuff....