Thursday, December 4, 2008

"I never wash my pants. I like to keep the night on them. "

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist-2008-Peter Sollett


In the mid-90's Richard Linklater directed a masterful film starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy where we witness two characters meet, hit it off, and subsequently spend the entire night out together falling in love. It is the kind of romantic film that leaves you with a certain type of lightness, where you know you just saw some type of beautiful human interaction, but find it hard to express. Peter Sollett has directed a film that tries to fall into a similar vein, but instead, falls flat.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist gives us two sweet and lovable characters to follow as well. There's Nick(Michael Cera) the awkward yet adorable musician with a soft heart. And Norah, she's the daughter of the Electric Lady Studios owner, and has a wicked taste in music. Throughout the course, they meet, and go on a search for the band Where's Fluffy, which all the characters seemingly love. Hilarity ensues throughout the night. Before Sunrise-lite is what they should have named it.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (or as I like to call it Nick and Norah's Infinitely Long Title) seems to live or die on how truly hip it can be. Characters name drop indie bands of all types and litter their conversations with mentions of I-Pod's and how totally gay friendly they are. Sometimes trying so hard to convince us it's OK to be gay that it rings false. It's not a slight to the film to be gay friendly, I actually loved that aspect. The characters mentioned homosexuals without batting an eye, like it was an everyday part of life. What the film does with this though, is inadvertently use it to make some jokes on behalf of the homosexuals littered throughout. Nick has a band(The Jerk Offs) where he is the only straight member. I found that to be an interesting twist. At once, when this seems to be played out very wonderfully, we then get a scene where they go into a gay club and every guy they pass winks and smiles at Nick. I have never met gay guys who act like this. Maybe I am from an alternate universe to this, but it seems they were force feeding a homosexual stereotype while still trying to maintain credibility by being gay friendly.

It's hard to wrap my head around how utterly precocious this film is as well. It wants to be so cute and hip that it really loses track of it's characters. Oftentimes we are stuck in mundane conversations filled with nothing but void name droppings of hip bands. Really, Norah's summation for why she thinks Nick has too many The Cure songs on his I-pod is mind numbingly stupid.

Let me stop there. Perhaps I am being too hard on the film. I honestly don't enjoy tearing things down, but I am letting my honest opinion choose which letters my fingers are to press. This film really isn't a trainwreck like I have made it out to be. We get some really wonderful moments here.

First off, Michael Cera is quite possibly the funniest person on the planet. Not in terms of sheer LOL-ness, but in the ways in which he can subtly say one line that would never be funny said any other way or by any other person. Kat Dennings is also nice in the film, and while I think she has a career ahead of her, she isn't quite there yet. The supporting cast are all fine as well. Nick's ex-girlfriend plays super bitch superbly, although she seemed a little young looking to be such a sex-goddess, or perhaps I am getting too old for this.

I could definitely relate to Nick on so many levels. I am of a similar make. In high school I was playing in bands and playing shows, had a terrible car and had trouble getting my guitar into it sometimes. Nick's plight with his ex is also very relatable. While he often makes stupid decisions, I applaud the film for being more realistic as more often than not, that is the decision any guy would make in that moment.

There are quite a few cameos littered throughout the film as well. Seth Meyers, John Cho, Kevin Corrigan, all do wonderfully small, but funny things. Andy Samburg of SNL and Hot Rod steals his scene as a hobo outside a church though.

If it weren't for the utter cuteness and hipster attitude of the film, I believe I could have jumped on the bandwagon more often. I wanted to know Nick and Norah, their moments alone are some of the best in the film. Every detraction, every instance of following Norah's drunken friend wondering the streets of New York left me with an uneasy feeling.

Peter Sollett definitely had some type of talent here. I enjoyed the look he gave the film and the somewhat John Hughes feel of the film, and can see him making great, entertaining cinema in the future, but for now, I'll keep watching Juno for my hipster cuteness.

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