October 9, 2008

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Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (PG-13)
Two cute kids, their crazy friends and one totally disgusting piece of gum bring life to a night out on the town in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, a fantasy emo-kid version of teen life.

Fantasy, because I doubt most high school seniors spend their nights un-curfewed and running around New York City in search of a totally awesome underground band, a trip they make in an ironically fabulous Yugo.

Nick (Michael Cera) is on bass in a three-person band (a drum machine supplies the beat) that has a series of names, none of which I can print here. He is also deep in the angst over the loss of Tris (Alexis Dziena), the horribly shallow girl who recently broke up with him and who has been cheating on him for months. Not that he knows that. Norah (Kat Dennings) does, though, just as she knows that Nick is her musical soulmate. Tris is her schoolmate and she rescues his mix-CDs from the trashcan when Tris tosses them. On one fairy tale-like night, Nick and Norah are thrown together as they search for their favorite band Where’s Fluffy and Nick tries to avoid the out-with-her-new-guy Tris, Norah tries to take care of her drunk mess friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) and Nick’s band mates Thom (Aaron Yoo) and Dev (Rafi Gavron) try to get Nick to get over Tris and under Norah (sorry, the movie is a bad influence).

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is utterly adorable. Nick and Norah still seem like somewhat believeable teens (though infinitely cooler than any teens I ever met or the teen that I was at their age). They are awkward and funny and suddenly deep and indecisive. Their friends and frienimes are also quirky and strange but not exaggeratedly so. There is a subtext of possibility to their story — the kind that can carry you through to those first years after college when you still feel that anything can happen in your life. They wear this special air with charm. I think what makes this movie fun is that you either are a teen and identify with and aspire to it or you were a teen and can feel nostalgia over the better parts of that age. Even when the movie gets silly, it’s likeably silly, in the way that your less embarrassing high school memories can be.

And, of course, it has a nifty soundtrack. B

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including teen drinking, sexuality, language and crude behavior. Directed by Peter Sollet and written by Lorene Scafaria (from the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan), Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is an hour and 30 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Sony.