Let's get this one straight from the start - I’m not normally a fan of romantic ‘comedy’ films. Or indeed, anything particulaly soppy and mushy, as they usually make me want to vomit all over the DVD case. So a film with the review line ‘a sweet, funny love story’ usually make me run for the hills. I pretty much only picked up Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Sollett, 2008) as it had Michael Cera on the cover, possibly a contender for the Milly Award for the most adorable man in existence.That, and the fact it was cheap in Blockbuster. Ever the scrounging student, eh? But after watching the movie, I'm actually pretty glad I did.
Nick (Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) are two teenagers who are lost in music, and on one not-so-special day, they discover their favourite band Where’s Fluffy are playing a top secret gig. Separately, they set off to see the band. With hiccups and setbacks along the way, such as Nick turning out to be Norah’s friend’s ex and the antics of Norah’s drunken best friend Caroline, the pair find their love of music bringing them together in the most unexpected way.
Unlike many rom-com ‘heroines’, Norah is played as sassy and witty, with a dorky sense of humour and plenty of balls, particularly when it comes to the revelation that her ex-boyfriend is using her to get to her music producer father. As for Nick, the character is a typical role for Cera, the nerdy, slightly hopeless loser, so understandably he plays the part perfectly. However, it is the supporting cast that really lift the film beyond the love story. Nick’s three gay bandmates inject a large dose of humour, along with the drunken Caroline, with her shining moment being crawling into a church and shouting ‘Why does the altar boy have no pants on?’ (we later find out it’s not a church, and the ‘altar boy’ isn’t who he seems!).
The music obviously plays a big part in the movie, with performances from hip indie acts catching perfectly the spirit of New York’s happening music scene, something echoed in the way the film is shot to take in the city's nightlife. It’s not just the music that’s a treat to the ears either, as the dialogue is quick-witted and smart, with plenty of spunk and minimal sop, particularly from Norah. I'd expected a Disney-esque, PG friendly type movie - but regular discussions of sex and relationships made it a more grown-up film than the innocent-seeming title gives away.
Despite its typical-teen love story, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist stands out as a quirky, offbeat 'coming-of-age' comedy, along the lines of films like Juno and (500) Days of Summer. The music-rooted theme sets it apart from similar and blander offerings, and while it may not be the most memorable film you’ll ever see, but it’ll certainly spend 90 minutes bringing a smile to your face.