Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – A Few Years Late But Just As Rewarding

Title: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Release: 2008

Director: Peter Sollett

Writer(s): Lorene Scafaria (Screenplay), Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (Novel)

Starring: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Ari Graynor, Alexis Dziena

*Warning, this review may contain light spoilers.

I may be late to the party, but I finally arrived. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008) isn’t a new movie by any means. Having been released over a decade ago, its meaning and message are timeless. As a self-proclaimed action-movie aficionado – think Predator, Expendables, Rambo, Bloodsport – I was not only impressed with Director Peter Sollett’s delivery, but also impressed with my level of interest in what is clearly a romance dramedy.

I look forward to the evenings that my wife falls asleep early so I can put on cheesy macho-man flicks loaded with explosives, muscles, and questionable dialogue laced with cheesy one-liners. Now, if you don’t mind… GET OFF MY PLANE!

This one night in particular, my wife was up late. I was up late. I look up from my phone and see a bunch of teenage girls in a high school hallway. Snore! But I’m bored with my phone, and I can’t sleep. So, sure. Why not? I’ll bite.

A Story of Love and Uncertainty

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist tells the story of two high school kids living separate lives yet unbeknownst to them, they are intertwined through mutual friends. For weeks, Norah, brilliantly acted by Kat Dennings, has been falling for a boy she has never met, her friend Tris’s ex-boyfriend. Tris and Norah have a rocky and weak friendship and they couldn’t be more opposite. Tris is attention-grabbing and conceited while Norah is innocent and reserved. As Tris has been throwing out her ex’s mixtapes in the trash, Norah has been picking them up. She is very enamored with his musical tastes and affinity for production (his disc sleeves are artfully crafted). The first 10 or 15 minutes of the movie do not necessarily represent how the rest of the movie will flow, instead serving up heavy doses of character development in seemingly rapid succession.

When can we get our own mixtape?

Norah soon discovers that the man of her mixtape-dreams is actually her friend Tris’s ex-boyfriend. What ensues is a warm coming-of-age tale for one young girl, Norah. Taking place in a single night out in the city, Nick and Norah scour the Big Apple in search of their favorite underground band’s secret show. The search for the show keeps the story moving, adding wonderful conflict and pace to what could have been a very boring and slow love-story. As the world tries to tear apart their courtship, which isn’t without its bumps in the road, everything seems to bring them back together. This love story goes exactly as you thought it would. After all, the good guy always wins in the action movies, right? Hooray, love prevails.

Strength in Acting

Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Michael Cera’s (Nick) comedic timing and delivery are flawless as always. Where he really shines, however, is in showing his range of emotions unexpected from his fans. In 2008, Michael Cera was one of the hottest up-and-coming young stars. The massive success of Superbad and surprise hit Juno landed him on the A-list. He seems selective in which roles he takes on, occasionally eschewing big budget experiences for more unique and well-writ artsy features and shorts. I will forever respect him for it.

Yes, Michael Cera is the most recognizable actor in the film, not to mention the top-billed actor. But Kat Dennings (Norah) sneakily steals the show as the true driving force of the story. Her timely wit is more evident here than I’ve ever seen, and early on she delivers a plethora of awkward moments that few could really pull off. Together, Cera and Dennings share a strong chemistry that works perfectly for this script and setting.

Conclusion

All-in-all, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a marvelous tale, a true modern adventure/love story in an overnight city setting. The coming-of-age story for Nick and Norah is wonderful and all, but cinematic storytelling is often only as good as its associated film-making. After the movie ended, I was in awe at the total experience, not just the acting, humor, and solid dialogue. The camerawork is absolutely brilliant featuring a whole slew of close-up handheld work to give the feel of truly being there with the characters. The close-ups lend a very intimate slant into their world of discovery, exploration, and desires for love. I’m almost entirely convinced that this movie couldn’t work with a static camera vantage point. If you’re in the mood for a tale of love laced with witty humor and incredible cinematography, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist delivers the goods in spades.

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