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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

The saddest part of being older than the vintage of the wine you drink is that you tend to remember things that nobody else does, and if they did, they probably wouldn’t care about this stuff anyway. I fret over things nobody thinks about, like why didn’t the Titanic stop when it hit the iceberg and let the passengers climb on board it until help came? You’d figure the iceberg must have been big enough to hold at least some of the passengers considering it was large enough to rip a hole in the side of a giant ship. I also wonder about weird things like why Chilly Willy wore a hat and scarf when he was a penguin. Was he cold? Wouldn’t a coat have been a better idea if that was the case? And isn’t he supposed to like the cold? He is a penguin after all. Oh, and what in the heck is the deal with Donald Duck? He wears a shirt and hat but no pants? Kinky. Apparently he wants everyone to take a gander.

I am probably also one of the few who recall the fact that there was a famous film couple by the names of Nick and Nora decades before the current incarnation now on-screen in
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Oh sure, they added an “h” to the original Nora’s name, but I’m convinced novelists Rachel Cohn and David Levithan purposely called their characters Nick and Norah because there was a small blip in their brains that just *knew* these were perfect together and they’d heard of the pairing before. The originals, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man series, began in 1934 and ran until 1947, with a total of six movies, were as popular as Charlie Chan and Miss Marple when it came to sniffing out murders and solving them.

2008’s Nick and Norah don’t sniff out murders, but they are in search of a favorite band, Where’s Fluffy?, who only play at spontaneously announced venues in the middle of the night almost anywhere in the greater New York City area. First though, I should back up and explain who these characters are and how they joined in on this search.

This Nick (Michael Cera; Juno) is a senior in high school with plans to go to the Berkeley School of Music in Boston in the fall. Unlike William Powell’s Nick, who never belonged to an indie band called The Jerk Offs, The Nick of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is the only straight guy in a gay band of that name, and he has been chronically depressed since being dumped by his snotty girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena; Fool’s Gold). Tris is friends with a party girl named Caroline (Ari Graynor; Blues), who has never met an alcoholic beverage she didn’t like… to guzzle as rapidly as she could. Caroline is also friends with Norah (Kat Dennings; The House Bunny) as all three girls go to Sacred Heart high School. It’s while hanging at their lockers that Norah gets an earful of Tris’ stories of cheating on her boyfriend Nick and her constant trashing of the guy, even going so far as to throw out the mixed tapes he keeps sending her. Even though Norah doesn’t know him, she does retrieve the cds from the garbage and finds she really likes his taste in music.

So cut to the weekend and the news that Where’s Fluffy? is going to make an appearance in New York. The Sacred Heart girls, who live in Englewood, NJ, are revved and ready to go in search of their favorite band, while Nick gets news from his band-mates that they have gotten their first paying gig in the City on that very same night, which means they can play early then go looking for Where’s Fluffy? once they are done.

Overall, the gist of the picture focuses on how Nick and Norah collide as strangers, are then found liking each other despite the intrusion of his ex and hers (Jay Baruchel; Tropic Thunder), and while they first think they have nothing in common, they recognize that they do share a common love of music and sense the growing bond between them.

What’s really great about
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is the honesty of the piece. It feels raw and the language sounds like it is improvised and not scripted even though it is. It creates an ambiance of how young adults talk to one another and the actors perform as authentically as almost-twenty-somethings actually operate. To them, “the gay thing” is not what it was to those of us who grew up in a different era, and band-mates Thom (Aaron Yoo; 21) and Dev (Rafi Gavron; Breaking and Entering), along with their “trick” for the night, jokingly called “Lothario” (Broadway’s “Spring Awakening” star Jonathan B. Wright), are actually lovingly portrayed as “just people” and not as “just gay people” for a change. The few comments about their sexuality come simply from people questioning Nick’s persuasion when they find him with a girl.

As an old fuddy-duddy, I couldn’t help but wonder where these kids’ parents are through all of this. I mean, geez, I know they are seniors in high school but they are out all night long in NYC. Where’s Fluffy? doesn’t even begin playing until after 4:00 a.m.; doesn’t anyone have to call home or have a curfew anymore? I know it’s only a movie, but you’d think everyone over the age of 25 had been sent to the gas chambers or something. There’s not an adult to be found anywhere. If I was that little witch Tris’ parents, I’d put an ankle bracelet on her that would zap her with a good 1000 volts every time she went three blocks from home or tried to remove her newly installed chastity belt. As for Caroline, I’d send her off to Betty Ford for a good “airing out.” Ah, but being a romantic, I’d be the first to offer to drive the van up to Massachusetts so Dev and Thom could get married, and, maybe, just maybe, after a sequel to this one and Juno, when we are sure who Michael Cera is really ready to settle down with, I’d be willing to hold a nice shower for Norah, who, as it turns out is a nice Jewish girl, with a rich (if invisible) daddy. Not that I’m pushing, Bubbe, but she is a nice girl.

1 comment:

movie fan said...

there were some awkward moments in this movie that were hard to get over... like every time that gum was passed around, yuck