Film Review: Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is just another in what is essentially just a long production line of mid teen romantic comedies. A formulaic movie which sticks to the recipe and never rocks the boat. The result is a film that is entertaining, uplifting and enjoyable but at the exact same time, somehow subconsciously monotonous because it provides nothing new.

That doesn’t mean I dislike the film, in fact it’s the opposite, it’s ranks a lot higher than some in the genre, but I never fully commit to it. Everything just feels a little bit too perfect. That little bit too good to be true. The solution just a little bit too obvious to the question it explores. I almost feel tricked into a story that can never happen. I buy into it, I get swept along for the ride, but ultimately I never relax into the film and I never fully commit to the plausibility of the plot. I just never believe it would actually happen, but seeing it on screen still makes me long for it.

Michael Cera & Kat Dennings (Awkward) - Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist

And this hyper realism which borders on the extreme of perfectionism is shown brilliantly by the characters. Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) are just too stereotypical of the personalities they are meant to portray. Nick the down on his luck, life always kicking him and Norah the not quite pretty enough duckling waiting to open her eyes, both waiting to realise that inner belief is the key to happiness. It’s the text book relationship born by characters forced together in the idea of potential.

The supporting cast continue this trend for over obvious. The friends we’re meant to like all seem too good to be true. The happy go lucky outlook on life, the loyalty, the humour, everything about them is meant to instantly draw us in and wish they were our social circle. Then this is balanced by the antagonists who sit at the other end of the spectrum. They are a personification of every nasty adjective and trait you care to lay before them. Slimy, manipulative, shallow, weak. The idea is simple, we are meant to be Nick or Norah, to feel that pang of doubt about our self worth and they use both ends of the supporting cast to simply reinforce our middle-groundness by hyper extending their positions. I still wish I had friends like Nick though!

Michael Cera & Kat Dennings (Eating) - Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist

And while this extremism could be a problem. making the film feel so unnatural that you completely draw away from it, somehow it doesn’t. I think it’s down to the fact that you never actually think the film is real. I have certainly never had a night out like they do and I certainly have never heard a story of a relationship forming in such a clichéd way as theirs.

The reality is a drunken snog on a packed dance floor followed by a greasy kebab, not a wild race around the streets of New York and a upmarket burger and fries.

I don’t hate how dreamy and false Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist is underneath it all, because while it feels foolishly silly at times, part of you actually wishes it was true. That this really could happen. It’s that little bit of escapism, that moments dream, we all long for inside. The chance, however slim, that this could actually happen, that you could have a night like this, is just powerful enough to override every other problem and plot hole the film has. Even including the unnecessary continuation of chewing gum chewing.

Michael Cera (Playing Guitar) - Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist

Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist is the type of movie that is always going to be forgotten and passed over because there are better examples out there. She’s All That tells the story of hidden potential better, Serendipity is a better love story and The Perks of Being A Wall Flower does a better job at making you feel good inside about living in the middle ground of unpopularity. And I won’t even start on the options for movies with better music!

But don’t give up on Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist because every once in a while you just need to let go, to find a warmly simple and yet charmingly uplifting film that serves no other purpose than to let you dream implausible realities and for that briefest of moments simply believe that even the stupidly impossible can happen; and in that role Nick And Norah are a couple worth meeting.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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