Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Nick (played by Michael Cera), a high school senior, has recently had his heart broken by former girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena). He leaves her long, rambling messages on her cell phone, makes mix CDs for her, and takes “personal days” off from school in an effort to recover from the emotional pain.
One night, Nick’s friends and bandmates finally get him to leave the house. They have a gig at a small club, and then later, they’re going to try to find out where a popular indie band called Where’s Fluffy? will be playing a secret show in New York City. While at his own show, Nick sees Tris with another guy, which leaves him feeling even more down. But things change when Tris starts harassing classmate Norah (Kat Dennings) about apparently being at the show alone. Norah quickly says that she’s not alone, that she’s simply waiting for her boyfriend. When Tris presses the issue, Norah latches onto Nick, asks him to go along with whatever she does, and then kisses him.
After that, Norah’s friend Caroline (Ari Graynor), who is stupid drunk by this point, has to be taken home. Nick offers to help, so he, Norah, and Caroline pile into his Yugo. But when Nick’s friends see him with Norah, they seize the opportunity to help him finally get over Tris. They offer to take Caroline home so that Nick and Norah can try to track down the Where’s Fluffy? show.
From that point on, the film follows Nick and Norah on their various adventures during one long, rambling night in New York. It’s the kind of night that most high school students are familiar with, where you wander around aimlessly, try to hook up with friends, play phone tag, just barely miss running into each other, and encounter a number of weirdos and freaks while having one of the most memorable experiences of their lives.
My Reaction: I’d heard mostly mixed reviews about Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist before seeing the film, and now I understand why. There are some good things here, but some problems as well, so the project as a whole ends up being just average.
One of the things I liked was how the filmmakers captured what it’s like to be in high school and wander around all night with your friends, basically doing nothing. If you’re lucky, you’ve experienced at least one night like the one that Nick and Norah had. Maybe not exactly the same as far as the details go, but similar enough to find yourself nodding in agreement at many of the scenes.
But that’s also one of the biggest problems with the movie. It was so familiar that there wasn’t anything original about it at all. In a story like this, the characters need to be particularly strong, but neither Nick nor Norah fit that bill. Nick, like every single other character I’ve seen Michael Cera play is rather passive and dull, content to merely react to things rather than take control of any situation. Why he would have two good-looking girls fighting over him is beyond me. He wasn’t funny or charming at all, just completely bland. And Norah wasn’t much better. Perhaps that’s why they ended up liking each other.
Overall, I thought Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist was just ok. It’ll be familiar enough that you’ll want to keep watching because you’ll recognize a piece of your own life, but ultimately, the film doesn’t tell much of a story. I give it 2 stars out of 5.