Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including teen drinking, sexuality, language and crude behavior
Profanity:Very strong language for a PG-13
Nudity/Sex:Very explicit sexual references and situations for a PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs:Teen drinking, character gets very drunk
Violence/Scariness:Comic violence, no one badly hurt
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:October 3, 2008

There is no question that Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) are destined for True Love. For one thing, they have the same taste in music. Nick is still making mixes for the girl who dumped him (Alexis Dziena as Tris, who doesn’t want Nick but REALLY doesn’t want him to want anyone else) because that is the best way for him to express how he feels. He does not know that Norah snags them because she may not know who he is, but she knows he is her musical soulmate. When Tris threw the most recent one into the trash (“Road to Closure: Volume XII”), Norah retrieved it and loved it.

And they share names with the most adorable couple in the history of movies, Nick and Nora Charles, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy in the “Thin Man” series. Powell and Loy, who appeared together more than any on-screen team in the sound era, were always magic together (I am especially partial to “I Love You Again”), but what made their “Thin Man” couple so unusual was that they were already married when they began. The original Nick and Nora made marriage look like fun; they were better evidence that there is such a thing as happily ever after than a hundred movies that end with a wedding.

This Nick and Norah have a way to go to get to happily ever after, but it is a journey we enjoy taking with them. First, the characters are played by two of the most endearing young performers in films today, Michael Cera (from “Juno” and “Superbad”) and Kat Dennings (“40 Year Old Virgin” and “The House Bunny”). Second, the script is fresh, funny, and real, and third it is superbly directed by Peter Sollett, whose Raising Victor Vargas showed great skill at telling stories about teenagers that feel true, immediate, and intimate.

It all takes place on one night in the small town that is New York City, or at least the part of New York that is cool for high school seniors, who cruise around and run into each other pretty much constantly except when they are trying to find each other. Nick, Norah, Tris and her new date, Nick’s kind-hearted gay bandmates, and Norah’s very drunk friend Caroline (Ari Graynor, whose dazzling smile almost completely de-tawdrifies her character’s situation, even when she’s barfing into a bus station toilet that was already plenty disgusting enough).

The film adroitly sidesteps the expected teen movie cliches. Nick and Norah are tentative about their feelings for one another but they each know who they are and they both have a level of confidence about interacting in the world and understanding what is important to them. I liked the way Norah talked about “tikkun olam,” the Jewish imperative to heal the world.” It is very nice to see a movie character, especially a young one, who draws something meaningful from religion and to see something Jewish in a movie that is not “oy vay,” bagels, or guilt. The movie also draws from the emerging world of cuddle puddles and technological omni-connectedness to move the story forward without being intrusive or showy or trying too hard to be hip. And it beautifully catches the way that falling in love at the same time transforms us and makes us our most authentic selves.



  • jestrfyl

    Damn those trailers! At first glance I was prepared to dismiss this as simply another wastrel flick. But then when I saw the trailer again I paid more attention and it looked interesting. After the third viewing – and listening – I have started to think this movie may have something. I like the actor who plays Nick. And I am wondering if – even in a moment of fantasy – the creator was posing the scenario of the old Nick and Nora – what if they were meeting for this first time as part of this generation. Whatever. Anyway, I am prepared to go see this at our $1.50 theater in a few weeks, once it has finished it run at the retail theaters. Wow, sometimes those trailers really work – who knew?!

  • schoolhouserocker

    Dazed And Confused was set in the 70’s.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, schoolhouserocker! Of course you’re right and I’ve made the correction.

  • Keith Demko

    Hola Nell .. I’m glad to hear you liked this one as much as I did .. I pretty much knew I would going in, but did even more than I expected, and I have to say Peter Sollett is now one of my favorite directors.

  • Tracy

    Hi Nell,
    I’m a 17-year-old girl and I just wanted to let you know that the tikkun olam discussion was a very important part of the book, and Norah and Nick were two very articulate teenagers who had some pretty philosophical discussions.
    Cohn and Levithan are happy with the movie but have stated it is very different from their book (I, personally, am not seeing it, as I do not wish for it to damage the love I have for this book, and I’m not a huge Michael Cera fan).
    I will also add that while this movie is PG-13, the book is decidedly more for high schoolers like myself– the f-bomb is dropped a considerable amount of times.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Tracy! That is very good to know. Books and movies are very different art forms and it often seems that the better the book, the harder it is to make it into a movie without making important changes. I often feel the way you do about books I like and prefer to keep my own “movie” of the book in my imagination instead of seeing someone else’s version on screen.
    I appreciate your comments and hope you will return often and let me know what you think of the movies you see.

  • jessica

    My 15 was angry at me, but I wouldn’t let her go see it with her boyfriend and a couple of friends. I read the play-by-play on Kids In Mind and decided the few sexual scenes were too explicit. I wish there were a PG-17 rating!

  • Nell Minow

    Good for you, Jessica! I hope my parental guidance about the explicit sexual references and situations in the film was also helpful. I appreciate your comment, which will be of assistance to parents trying to decide whether the film is appropriate for their children. Thanks for writing.

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