21 June 2009

Movie Review: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist


Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
2008, 90mins, PG-13
Director: Peter Sollett
Writer (s): Lorene Scafira, Rachel Cohn (novel)
Cast includes: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Alexis Dziena, Aaron Yoo, Jay Baruchel, Ari Graynor
Release Date: 3rd October 2008

“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” can’t claim to be wildly original or even all that massively memorable but it does have one thing going its way that can make almost any romantic comedy manageable, good solid chemistry between the love struck leads. Peter Sollett’s tale of two young and confused adolescents heading into an unexpectedly eventful New York evening is a blissfully cute and charming confection, not a genre high point or anything like it, but with enough giggles and well intentioned romance to warrant a recommendation.

Nick (Michael Cera) is convinced by his buddies to go out and play a gig with them, encouraging him to get on with his life after a nasty break-up with Tris (Alexis Dziena). After his set he meets Norah (Kat Dennings) who requires his help in a moment of desperation and from there on in some sort of chemistry sorts to boil between the two. Together they hit the New York night trying to track down Norah’s boozy gal pal Caroline (Ari Graynor) and evading a newly interested Tris, who has had her spoiled desires reignited by Nick and Norah’s newfound friendship. All the while the pair is also aiming to try and find the location where one of their favourite bands is set to play, following clues and tip offs so they can end the evening on the right note.

There is no great sense of dramatic weight and no startlingly original plot contortions to speak of but “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” chugs along just fine without such seemingly vital cinematic factors. Its movies like this which demonstrate how nice romance, cheerful comedy and good intentions can trump some artistic vacuums and keep any production on a level headed and enjoyable road. The screenplay really isn’t that burdened with the concerns or issues which plague the real world, the New York night that are two hip leads move across is filled with nothing scarier than a slightly creepy homeless guy and the law seems blissfully absent. In many ways this romanticized Brooklyn is the perfect place to pitch such a love story, complimenting the whimsical characters and plotlines perfectly.

Michael Cera and Kat Dennings are both highly agreeable in the leading roles, neither is attempting to step outside of their comfort zones but for the purposes of this effort that’s not a big deal. They do what they do best and make a cute and rather cuddly team whilst they’re at it, keeping the audience latched into their sweet and slowly blossoming romance. Both also demonstrate they’re comedic heritages credibly, using the dialogue to cook up titter worthy moments of awkwardness and smirktastic punch lines and comebacks. Ari Graynor is worth a few laughs as Norah’s intoxicated friend on the loose whilst Alexis Dziena is moderately successful as Nick’s manipulative and bitchy ex. It’s hardly a roster of unique characterizations but the actors do play well of each other and contribute heartily to the entertainment value.

The love is well constructed around some neat laughs and a quick runtime keeps things brief and involving. Sollett could have tried to play the movie out over a considerably longer runtime but this is a brisk and dream like romance best told over a short and effective burst which is exactly how he applies it. “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” makes a great date movie, warm and frothy enough to keep everyone happy but light and fluffy enough so that it won’t overshadow an evening. Plus whilst it might not exactly be bursting with new hooks for the genre it’s a pretty tender and light-hearted flick, there is little in the way of vulgarity to cloud the coming together of our hero and heroine.

For a movie which has music in many ways as it’s narrative heartbeat I wasn’t blown away with the soundtrack, it’s probably hip enough but not at all memorable and unlikely to have the masses buying CD’s or downloading tracks. It’s in this department that I was expecting considerably more from “Nick and Norah” but seeing as they exceeded expectations in other factors I’ll let it slip. As long as people don’t expect “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” to rock the genre’s landscape I can see this providing a worthwhile degree of fun and feel good moments for budding and old romantics alike.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


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