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Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Genres:
Comedy, Romantic Comedy
Director:
Peter Sollett Peter Sollett
Starring:
Michael Cera Michael Cera
Kat Dennings Kat Dennings
Aaron Yoo Aaron Yoo
Rafi Gavron Rafi Gavron
Ari Graynor Ari Graynor
User Lists:
> Best Films of 2008

6.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 14, 2008
As a film critic, I look for magic. I think every film critic and movie goer does - it's just that the magic differs from person to person. You look for that one film that does something to you that no other film can do - that one film that stirs emotions and feelings that no other film can. This magic is what characterizes a persons taste in films. It decides what they see and dictates what they like and what they don't. I remember seeing "Pleasantville" for the first time and getting that feeling, that rare and special feeling that I was watching something truly remarkable - something that made me laugh and cry and smile throughout - something that moved me. I remember seeing "Magnolia" for the first time and acquiring those same emotional attachments. It has been a while since I've had one of those feelings and one of those connections. Last year was a fantastic year, on the whole, for cinema - but it didn't produce a film like that. As good as "There Will Be Blood" was, and as fantastic as "Juno" turned out to be - neither made me feel that special feeling. And, it looked as if 2008 was going to be another disappointing year, in that regard. Then, however, I stumbled into a quaint little picture called "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist". I knew very little about the film other than (01) it was adapted from a popular book by Rachel Cohn; and (02) it featured music from some of my absolute favorite indie rock bands. That was enough to get me into the theatre. By the end of the film, I was a junkie. I had been given my fix and I wanted more. It's difficult to explain how much I enjoyed the film, and the best adjective I could use would be 'magical'.

We meet Nick (Michael Cera) as he is leaving a voicemail message to Tris (Alexis Dziena), his ex-girlfriend and one of the hottest girls around. They dated for six months and when she broke up with him, it basically sapped his will to live. Nick is persuaded by his friends and band mates, Thom (Aaron Yoo) and Dev (Rafi Gavron), to go with them into New York City to try and catch the band Where's Fluffy?, an underground indie band that thrives on making it difficult for their fans to find them. Once there, Nick bumps into Norah (Kat Dennings), who has secretly been in love with he and his mix tapes for a while, but just never had a face to put with a mix. The two meet in a very awkward fashion and then end up scouring the city looking for Caroline (Ari Graynor), Norah's best friend - a drunk girl walking the city with her gum and her haunts. Most of the film deals with Nick and Norah wandering the city, looking for Caroline, with the help of the boys in the van. Nick is forced to deal with his continued feelings for Tris and Norah is forced to deal with a long time boyfriend who only seems to want her for what her father can do for him. The two connect on a deeper level as the night wears on, and we already know what the outcome 'should' be long before the two characters know what the outcome 'will' be. "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" is just a quiet and sophisticated little movie about two people who just need a little help getting together. It's a film about relationships, friendship and all those other 'ships' we take for granted.

This film reminded me of several other films, but in spirit only. "Before Sunrise" is the first that comes to mind. Both films deal with a man and a woman wandering the city, trying to get to know one another, not knowing whether the connection they share will last any longer than a few hours. It also reminded me of "The Science of Sleep" a little - this whimsical and almost dreamlike look at a budding relationship. "Nick and Norah" has that same kind of quirky bravado and there is this tenderness in the relationship in both films that really comes across. Credit director Peter Sollett for crafting an intimate and fragile portrait in the midst of the indie comedy and indie rock music. He really does take these two characters and make the audience root for them. When you like so many of the characters in a film, you know the writer and director have done something right. Such was the case with "Nick and Norah", the most likable assortment of characters 2008 has seen. And I also want to comment on the cinematography, courtesy of Tom Richmond. There are some shots in this film that really capture the magic of New York City at night. The whole film captures what it's like for young people growing up in and around New York City and how the city itself really becomes a character in their own lives. These lives are almost entirely soundtracked by some of the best indie rock bands around, including Band of Horses, Modest Mouse and countless others. There are very few scenes in the film where you don't have a song playing in the background and that helps weave together this tapestry of charm and tenderness that is so rampant.

At the heart of "Nick and Norah" are the two lead performances from Michael Cera and Kat Dennings. Michael Cera has become the master of playing these quiet, shy and quirky little guys you just want to hug for an hour. His delivery is impeccable and there is definitely no other actor out there right now doing what he is doing. He can take the most random line ever and turn it into something so sweet and so meaningful. I don't know that he gets all the credit he deserves. And, Kat Dennings is a nice counter for Cera, proving herself in every scene. She has that same kind of awkward charm and she has some real chops when the scenes demand. The colorful supporting cast includes two very entertaining performances from Aaron Yoo and Rafi Gavron as Nick's two gay band mates looking for the perfect names for their musical assault. And Ari Graynor is hysterical as Norah's alcoholic best friend, Caroline, on whom most of the action revolves. Also look out for cameos from Seth Meyers, Andy Samberg and Jay Baruchel, in various roles. You get the feeling during this picture that all of these talented people were brought together by what had to be either their love for the novel or their appreciation of how well the novel was adapted to script. I went straight to Barnes and Noble after the film and picked up the book and plan to start reading it very soon. Typically, the book is better than the film. I don't see how that could be possible.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" is my favorite film of this year, and it's the first film in a long, long while to leave me with that 'magic' that I always look for in a motion picture. It left me smiling - and what better compliment is there? There are so many films you see in the year - so many films that simply do their jobs and service the audience and don't try for anything other than keeping our attentions for a couple of hours. It takes a special film to attempt to keep our attentions and inject a little life into what the audience is seeing. "Nick and Norah" might not have been trying for all of that, but it definitely succeeded. I plan on seeing this one in theatres a couple more times and I am certain it will not fall off my top ten list by the end of the year, and it very well may still find itself sitting at the top. If you loved the honesty and the tenderness of "Before Sunrise"; if you loved the quirkiness and randomness of "Juno"; if you loved the feeling of whimsy and chaos of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" - you should absolutely fall in love with "Nick and Norah". It's the best film of the year - day and night.

10/10.
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Crispy #1: Crispy - added 10/14/2008, 01:59 AM
I was really looking forward to this, but given my disdain for indie rock, I doubt I'll enjoy it as much as you. Still, I have high hopes.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 10/14/2008, 09:32 PM
Magic is probably the best word to describe it. Seen it a few times now, and I'm still in love with it. One of the best movies I've ever seen, hands down.

10/10
Edd #3: Edd - added 11/28/2008, 01:07 PM
Worst movie of the last twenty years, or of all time? 0/10.
Optimus Prime #4: Optimus Prime - added 10/09/2009, 04:12 PM
Hated it... enough of the cutsie bullshit. Michael Cera sucks. Good enough for me to make it all the way through, 5/10.
AttnDefDis #5: AttnDefDis - added 06/27/2010, 01:21 PM
It had its moments, but overall it was pretty disappointing. Plus, I too dislike most Indie rock and didn't recognize most of the soundtrack. It should have been more varied and I don't understand why something titled "Infinite Playlist" wasn't just non-stop music or how it was a book. Seems odd.
Lucid Dreams #6: Lucid Dreams - added 11/22/2010, 03:42 AM
The indie scene or any scene really can suck a bag of dicks. However, I actually enjoyed this film, but I doubt I will ever watch it again. I'll just check out another Michael Cera film because he never really changes. 7/10
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