TIFF Review: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Many people have drawn a comparison between Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Juno, due to the hand drawn opening title sequence / poster title, Michael Cera and a focus on indie pop music. It also doesnt help that Norah screens at the Toronto a year after Juno premiered at the Film Festival. But Nick and Norah is nothing like Juno.

The teen comedy genre has always placed one step below Horror movies on the meter of public respect, probably because there are so many bad ones. I’ve always had a soft spot for high school films, and have had to defend the genre over the years to friends and family, touting Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Can’t Hardly Wait, Go and most recently Superbad as examples of what the genre can produce with the right talents involved. I’ve noticed that many of the teen films I’ve enjoyed, tend to happen over the course of one night. Nick and Norah is no different.

Nick (Michael Cera) is still trying to get over a six month relationship by making the 12th volume of a mix CD for his uninterested bitchy ex-girlfriend. After playing a gig with his queencore band The Jerk Offs (sans drummer), Norah (Kat Dennings) abruptly asks Nick to be her boyfriend for five minutes in order to show up her condescending friend Tris. And so the adventure begins. Norah’s drunk girlfriend gets lost in New York City while the duo goes on the hunt to find Fluffy’s secret show in Nick’s crappy little yellow car. And this is only the beginning.

Adapted from the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is good but not great. I have a feeling that it could have been better if they had stuck closer to the source material. In the book, it is Nick, not Norah, who asks for the five-minute relationship in an attempt to show his ex, who has showed up at his gig with a new guy, that he has also moved on. The reasoning behind the moment in the film seems very forced and contrived. It’s also never made clear why Tris went out with Nick in the first place. The six month relationship is unbelievable, even if she spent the whole time cheating on him. Maybe she was impressed that he is in a band.

What the film does get right is the wonderful little moments of a blossoming relationship, for example, one sweet moment when Nick offers to washes off Norah’s hands with a wet nap that he got at a resturant the week before. But the fantastical story gets in the way too often. Kat Dennings is the perfect go-to non-perfect girl you can’t help but love, and Michael Cera elevates the film with the wonderfully awkward comic timing we have come to enjoy. Mark Mothersbaugh provides a magical synth-pop score. Oh, and did I mention there is a small cameo by SNL’s Andy Samberg.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.

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