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Beaks here... I've yet to read any rave reviews of NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST (starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings), but as a huge fan of director Peter Sollett's indie debut, RAISING VICTOR VARGAS, I'm hoping for the best. It sucks when genuinely talented filmmakers have to blow five or six years of their career because Hollywood can't figure out how to homogenize their gifts. Most of the reactions thus far seem to be positive with reservations, and our reader "Plissken Needs Directions" seems to concur with those assessments.
Hey, I submit to you a review of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. And a little tantrum on the state of free preview screenings in Seattle. Getting into screenings in Seattle is becoming a major pain in the ass. Why is it, just because it’s free, I have to sit with a crowd of senior citizens that are nowhere near the movies demographic and have no idea what they are about to watch? I don’t know if it’s like this in other cities, but here in Seattle, it’s the same old people at EVERY preview screening. These are not critics, bloggers, or people who are going to share their views on the movie at work. These are people that just want a free hand out, regardless of whether or not the product suits them. These are the people that walk through CostCo on a Saturday trying to make a meal out of the free samples. Shame on the PR company that was hired to manage this screening, because they did a massive disservice to the studio in there recruiting efforts. Having to turn away 19 year old kids that would tell there friends about a movie that was really made for them so that a 90 year old woman who is going to think the movie is too coarse or loud can watch it is a complete waste of the studios money. But it’s all worth it if you can see your super early review in digital print on AICN. So here it is, a fairly spoiler free review of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Just like music in this day and age, the teen rom-com is officially going all emo. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is the latest young adult novel to be adapted for the mass audience; Gossiping Girls, Traveling Pants, and now hipper than thou teenagers. Nick (Michael Cera) is the tortured bass player in an all-gay-but-him post-punk band that is hip enough to play the village. He’s just been dumped by his girlfriend Tris and is full of teen angst, sarcasm, and self pity. Norah (Kat Denning) is the awkwardly fun-hipster-jew-girl-in-a-catholic-school, who has to deal with her father being famous and her friend being an alcoholic. She also goes to school with Tris and secretly steals the awesome mix cd’s that Tris’s mystery boyfriend makes for her. The two meet when they are both trying to avoid Tris at one of Nick’s shows. They share a kiss and away we go. To ensure Nick gets out of his funk, his fellow band mate’s arrange for him to go with Norah to find the band Where’s Fluffy?, playing a secret show in the city. The book and film both steer pretty much the same course until Norah’s friend Caroline, the Soprano’s Ari Graynor, thinks she’s being kidnapped by the band mates and takes off into the wilds New York. It’s then that the film turns into more of a scavenger hunt than a random and quirky adventure. The book Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a short novel about two Jersey kids meeting for a brief moment in New York that turns into an overnight love affair. The book’s charm comes from the fact the book rotates the perspective from which we see the story every other chapter. One chapter Nick is taking us through his rollercoaster of emotions, the next Norah. This provides insight to the characters that isn’t forced through cheesy dialogue one would never say out loud. That’s not to say all of the dialogue is cheesy, but one too many times the characters had to spell out how much they loved a certain band; this immediately following a scene where a different character was spelling out how much they loved a certain band. All so that when you saw them together later you would know, they both love a certain band. While some of the dialogue seemed forced, the characters themselves felt very real. There was no super sarcastic Juno-esque girl that seems to overcrowd these films nowadays. The characters and actors portraying them felt very genuine and unique. Gone are the days of the John Hughes stereotypes where everyone fits neatly into a mold. This brings me to one of the two biggest highlights of the film, The Jerk-Offs. Nick’s band is called the Jerk-offs. They are an emo/punk/queer-core band. (They sing hip songs with gay overtones or undertones depending on your preference.) The guitarist and lead singer are both gay, portrayed brilliantly by Rafi Gavron and Aaron Yoo, but that isn’t the only thing that makes them worth having in the movie. Between the two of them I was shocked to only hear one stereotyped line, this occurring more naturally when one is helping Norah primp before going out with Nick. They were real people, not overly blown (no pun intended) caricatures of effeminate gay men that Hollywood likes to drop into movies to spice things up. When Aaron Yoo’s Thom explains to Nick “what it’s all about,” he’s coming from a real emotional place. Not some hackneyed, “let me break it down sista” garbage. It’s nice to finally see a gay character be able to be something besides gay. The other bit of greatness in this film is Ari Graynor as Caroline. While the first few minutes of the movie are clunky with her introduction, the moment she get’s an opportunity to cut loose she does. Graynor’s performance as the boozy best friend is by far the most entertaining part of the film. While the jokes come easy, it’s impressive that the actress is able to keep Caroline charming. It’s easy to understand why someone would put up with her being an obnoxious drunk for so long as she is that endearing best friend who would stick by you to the end, if she could ever make it to the end without passing out or throwing up. Luckily the role was massively expanded from the book or we would have missed out on this fabulous performance. The film does offer up a few misfires. The pacing of the main love story between Nick and Norah doesn’t quite work as naturally as the book. In the book we are given a lil’ more time to get to know them before any decision is made as to how they feel about each other. In the movie it’s as if the filmmakers want you to know these two are in love before they’ve even met. Michael Cera, god bless him, is charming; as is Kat Denning, but these are not two great tastes that taste great together. Another little bit of unnecessity was the incredibly bad score this film had to offer. Too much synth, too loud (often overshadowing the dialogue), and just plain bad music in a movie that is supposed to be rooted in good music. They should have just stuck with the licensed pop/punk/emo and not bothered with a score. From the sound of it, they could have saved $1.27. If the score is an indicator, the playlist isn't that infinite. Overall the film isn’t a great experience, but definitely an experience worth having. If you want teen angst, it’s here in spades. If you want realistic characters with honest emotions, the film has that too. Just don’t expect a movie that’s going to move you. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a charming if forgettable teen romantic comedy. - Plissken needs directions

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 12, 2008, 7:36 p.m. CST

    Michael Cera stinks....

    by TheWaqman

    Him and that fat Jonah Hill guy should just vanish off the face of the earth. They both go by the same schtick. Michael Cera the awkward kid, and Jonah Hill the fat guy who screams "FUCK!" every 5 seconds.

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 7:37 p.m. CST

    Also first and second bitches.....

    by TheWaqman

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 7:39 p.m. CST


    by Tipsy McStagger

    Cera is usually solid, but the premise sounds really cheese.

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 7:44 p.m. CST

    The Waqman

    by BadMrWonka

    better than calling out first in a talkback as your schtick, you inverted nipple...

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 7:48 p.m. CST

    i've seen the similarities

    by jason baum

    between this and scott pilgrim, but i haven't read the playlist book yet. i'm looking forward to this, but mostly i wanna see pilgrim. those books are amazing, and it'll be great to see what edgar does with em.

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 7:49 p.m. CST

    How is it my schtick???

    by TheWaqman

    Its the first time I've ever done it. Great comeback Willy!

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 8 p.m. CST

    Still can't picture Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim

    by drewlicious

    But then again I've been wrong before and it's certainly something could be a welcom suprise.

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 8:20 p.m. CST

    I don't think I'm hip enough to see this movie

    by blindambition238

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 8:26 p.m. CST


    by mithrandir16

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 8:26 p.m. CST

    as opposed to 'little'?

    by mithrandir16

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 8:34 p.m. CST

    Seattle free screenings/AMC Pacific Place 11

    by InstantClassic

    Did this just happen to take place at Pacific Place downtown? I used to work in projection there and we did all the big screenings. I can't even remember how many times we'd have trouble from the regulars. Be it the bums, people faking being crippled in their wheelchairs to get to the front of the line or the troll lady (long hair with a hat, looks like a troll, in line at 1pm for a 7pm screening of a film she saw for free the week prior). I miss a lot of stuff from the movie theater days, but there's three things I thank my lucky stars over. No more shit paychecks. No more shit hours. No more Goddamned screening regulars.

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 8:47 p.m. CST

    Obnoxious looking.

    by thelivingdoll

    I can see it now. A theater full of hipsters and emo-kids trying to see the movie through the hair covering their eyes.

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 10:17 p.m. CST


    by BadMrWonka

    I live in Seattle and I've seen a few of those advance screenings (wrote a few reviews for AICN from them too, thank you very much) and you're right, I saw some fucking RUDE ASS FREAKS at those shows. <p>I wanted to shake them and be like, "look, it's a free movie, and it's not even out yet. be happy and calm down!"

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 10:18 p.m. CST


    by BadMrWonka

    just saying, Michael Cera is hilarious and has great comic timing. he grew up on one of the best comedies ever.<p>and know...are here. so calm down.

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 10:18 p.m. CST

    Captain Justice

    by BadMrWonka

    what a stupid post...I get what you were trying to say, but jesus that was stupid...

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 10:27 p.m. CST

    He grew up on one of the best comedies ever...

    by TheWaqman

    But still he didn't really learn much. Except for bringing the character of "George Michael" in every movie he's made since.

  • Sept. 12, 2008, 11:03 p.m. CST

    Does this mean Hollywood is coming around?

    by Xiphos_2

    to the fact that gay dudes are just that, dudes who happen to be gay and are not all screaming queen caricatures.<p> Aw hell, who am I kidding, screaming queens sells tickets. Forget what I wrote.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 12:09 a.m. CST


    by sidburnd1

    and it took 2 authors to write this crap?

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 12:11 a.m. CST

    I concur about seattle

    by titanmatrix

    I've gotten maybe 4 preview screenings(2 of which i couldn't attend because of work[Hamlet 2, 28 weeks later]) And i find that the average is about one per year.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 12:42 a.m. CST

    Rollercoster of emotions

    by David Cloverfield

    Take me through it Michael Cera!

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 1:08 a.m. CST

    only good thing....

    by slkboxrman

    about this film is KAT DENNINGS... she is the hottest new actress to debut in a long time.... she just has that "fuck me long and hard baby " look to her.....dont she

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 2:29 a.m. CST

    Wasn't the girl in Charlie Bartlett also?

    by Dirk Shocker

    If she's legal, she'd get it. I'd give her the best 5.5 seconds of my life!!! By the wat, Charlie Bartlett was awesome.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 2:30 a.m. CST

    Fucking T, I meant Y

    by Dirk Shocker

    I am really messed up.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 2:51 a.m. CST

    Site breaks Google spell check

    by Melvin_Pelvis

    might want to look into that

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 5:47 a.m. CST

    Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite playlist

    by pokadoo

    Sounds a bit Scott Pilgrimish. I might get this book. Michael Cera has definatly cornered the sensitive-emo-nerd niche in hollywood. Which is ok with me.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 7:50 a.m. CST

    this just sounds....awful

    by dr sauch

    I mean, truly unenjoyable.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 8:36 a.m. CST

    I Would've Liked This... If I Was 12

    by LaserPants

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 8:47 a.m. CST

    older people

    by Himbo

    Older people have tremendous recall of what it was to be an angsty teenager, usually much to their chagrin. I'm only double Nick and Norah's age, but can clearly recall. That is the curse. And the very title is a call to older movie buffs, who may have actually seen the origin of the "Nick and Norah" reference. <p> If the movie is good, old folks will talk it up. If it is not? Maybe 'movies about youth are wasted on the young.' <p> Ow, my hip!

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 9:56 a.m. CST

    The reviewer sounds like -

    by alexsteed

    what what I imagine the child of Kevin Smith (at his absolute worst) and Jerry Seinfeld (at his absolute worst) would sound like if he were raised listening to conservative talk radio: "Why is it, just because it’s free, I have to sit with a crowd of senior citizens that are nowhere near the movies demographic and have no idea what they are about to watch? I don’t know if it’s like this in other cities, but here in Seattle, it’s the same old people at EVERY preview screening. These are not critics, bloggers, or people who are going to share their views on the movie at work. These are people that just want a free hand out, regardless of whether or not the product suits them. These are the people that walk through CostCo on a Saturday trying to make a meal out of the free samples." I understand that this was an attack on the PR company, but it doesn't stop it from sounding like - Damn you old people, looking for your free handouts and taking from us kids what should be ours! Again, mixed with terrible observational humor (Costco - sort of) and bad, ranty writing). Admittedly, however, I do love this line: "If the score is an indicator, the playlist isn't that infinite."

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 10:53 a.m. CST

    I like Kat as the Trish's daughter in 40 Yr Old Virgin

    by Tacom

    She was funny in the scene where she's screaming at her mom(Catherine Keener) about wanting to have sex with her boyfriend.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Michael Cera is the only actor that could make

    by SID 8.0

    Jay Baruchel look intimidating. How sad is that.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 3:45 p.m. CST

    i love

    by ballsxcrew

    how angry people are about the whole "emo" craze. i mean, i would understand if, like me, you grew up when post-punk was starting to get a little more EMO-tional (embrace, fugazi, jawbreaker) and are just bummed out about what it turned into AND how it never became what it could've. all im hearing is a bunch of middle aged overweight assholes working a 9 to 5 upset that an alpha male fonzy-like attitude isnt the way to go anymore. mind you, i hate the new swoop haired fashion obsession and want to bomb mall punks into oblivion...but this music had a place close to my heart at one point and just turned into fabricated money making crap. i just think its hilarious that these tools bother some of you so much. ignore them, and don't go see this movie! a new trend is bound to take over soon. just enjoy your dunkin doughnuts, fast food dinners and lynard skynard vinyl.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 4:01 p.m. CST


    by Sick Fixx

    An alpha male Fonzy-like attitude will ALWAYS be the way to go!!!

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 4:04 p.m. CST

    ok you got me there

    by ballsxcrew

    fonzy still was pretty smooth.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 5:06 p.m. CST


    by Johnny Smith

    What's even worse than that was that Jay Baruchel was supposed to play lead villain Maxwell Lord in the Justice League movie. Good job, guys.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 5:37 p.m. CST

    I'd like to TF Kat Denning!

    by UnChienAndalou

    before she succumbs to the Hollywood pressure to starve herself down to swizzle stick proportions and get a breast reduction...cough cough Christina Ricci.

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 11:39 p.m. CST

    What the fuck is wrong with Lynard Skynard vinyl

    by Quin the Eskimo

    Tuesdays Gone is what every emo kid tries to channel

  • Sept. 13, 2008, 11:43 p.m. CST


    by Quin the Eskimo

  • Sept. 14, 2008, 12:59 a.m. CST


    by Brian

    does Kat still have large breasts? or did she lose them in the hollywood bulimia fires?

  • Sept. 14, 2008, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Yeah, But Christina Ricci Is Even HOTTER Now

    by LaserPants

    The loss of her massive boobs is a tragedy, true, but her thinner, more anime body is instant bonerfying. Like that Black Snake Moan movie? Holy fuck if I didn't want to pound her hot wet holes till the end of all there is. Sorry, but skinny is hot; gimme waify, vaguely methy, hot-ass transgressive pixie anime sex over some heffers bovine undulations any fucking day.

  • Sept. 15, 2008, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Kat Dennings

    by TrueLies

    Saw her in an ad. Checked IMDB. I haven't seen anything she's been in. what is it? I don't know. But... Uh... Wow... This woman is beautiful.