Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" is a film that never should have worked, but I found it absolutely charming. It has no villain, it has no hero, it barely has a plot, but in the course of what in a deeper film would be called a long night of the soul it captures the essence of teenage life and loves.
We meet Nick (played by Michael Cera, he of "Juno" and "Superbad") and Norah (a perfectly cast Kat Dennings) at the start of a long evening. He's with the wrong girl, she's with the wrong boy, and we know that by the end of the film they will be together, at least briefly, before they go on to a real life and adulthood - she to Brown and he to Boston's Berklee School of Music. But this night they and their friends are on the trail of a new band called "Where's Fluffy," which is scheduled to play that night but in the way of new underground bands hasn't yet told anyone where or when. As these New Jersey kids go from one venue to another, in Manhattan and Brooklyn, picking up clues as to the whereabouts of the band, Nick and Norah are thrown together and find they really like each other. Nick drives, if that's not too potent a word, what is probably the last living Yugo in New York, in a yellow color that's often mistaken for a taxi. The film is filled with lovely, witty incidents that make us giggle because they have enough truth in them that we can recognize ourselves.
So Nick and Norah finding themselves and each other is the story, and I know it doesn't sound like much, but Cera and Dennings carry it all off without pretension; we can believe that they are on the verge of finding out just who they are, and when they do they will be terrific people. He is the guitarist with a band whose name I cannot say on public radio, and she is the daughter of a recording industry executive. They have taken responsiblility for their drunken friend Caroline (a scene-stealing Ari Graynor) who gives the film its defining moment by throwing up into a Port Authority toilet and losing her cellphone in the murk, then having to retrieve it again before flushing the toilet. Does that sound like wit? I don't know, but it made me laugh.
The film was directed with an understanding of teenage life and behavior by Peter Sollett and written by Lorene Scafaria from the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I'm not sure I want to read the novel, but the film was just fine.