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Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Nick (Michael Cera) is pining because his girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena) dumped him, and keeps making her mix CDs. Tris isn't interested in the CDs, but her friend Norah (Kat Dennings) thinks they're wonderful. She's curious about Nick, who she knows only through the CDs and what Tris says about him.

Nick is in a band called the Jerk-offs, and he doesn't feel like playing a show with them that night. His gay band-mates, Thom (Aaron Yoo) and Dev (Rafi Gavron), try to help him out of his gloom with a rumor that his favorite band, Where's Fluffy, might be playing later that night. Both Tris and Norah attend their show. In an attempt to annoy her not-quite-ex boyfriend Tall (Jay Baruchel), Norah asks Nick, who she's never seen before, to be her "boyfriend for five minutes", and they share a long kiss. Tris sees the kiss, forgets about her new boyfriend Gary (Zachary Booth), and wants Nick back.

Meanwhile, Norah's friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) has become very drunk, and needs a ride home. Nick and Norah load her into his car – a Yugo – but Thom and Dev want to see Nick and Norah together, and try to help by offering to take her home themselves, with the help of their new friend Lothario (Jonathan Bradford Wright). Unfortunately, they lose Caroline, and everyone has to search for her instead of for Where's Fluffy.

Will they find Caroline? Will they find Where's Fluffy? Will Nick end up with Norah, back with Tris, or alone and miserable?

Peter Sollett directed; he did a very good job on the comedy timing, but the directing was plain overall. One joke had an extended setup (following a cable) but a disappointing punch-line. A running joke about a piece of gum may have been a metaphor about sexually transmitted disease – or just gross-out humor. A strong point was the way Norah was initially plain (movie-plain anyway) and Tris was beautiful; Norah became more beautiful, while Tris became less attractive, seemingly reflecting Nick's changing perceptions of them. Overall the directing is good.

Lorene Scafaria wrote the screenplay, adapting from a novel of the same title by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. I haven't read the novel, so I can't judge the faithfulness of the adaptation. (Another review said the film changed the couple-for-five-minutes scene.) The result was predictable, but mostly in the sense that it followed genre convention, rather than setting up too-obvious jokes. The writing was good.

Mark Mothersbaugh was credited with the film's original music. I didn't feel a Devo mood to it though. The selection of music was very good.

The acting was the film's greatest strength. Michael Cera was excellent; he's risking type-casting, but he really has this sort of character down. Kat Dennings was excellent too, and seemed like the most critical performance. Alexis Dziena was very good in her large supporting role. The other supporting characters were also good or very good.

8 Very Good

Although I rated the directing and writing merely good, the lead acting performances elevate the film to very good overall. Cera and Dennings deserve a lot of credit; it takes a lot for acting to make a movie better than the story.

Rating: The US rating of "PG-13" is reasonable, on the basis of the under-age drinking. There's also mildly-portrayed sexual behavior, and some strong language and gross-out jokes.

Screening: Monday, 5:15 pm, Seattle east suburb (Bella Bottega).
Audience: About 14 people, about 240 seats.

Snacks: Beer and étouffée


  • Blu-Ray - Boring ad for the movie format.
  • Little People Big World - A "reality" television show about little people.
  • Life on Mars - A crime-themed television show.
  • Crash - A Starz! television series. For some reason the ad doesn't mention that it's based on the Oscar-winning 2005 film of the same title.
  • E-Trade - One of several unmemorable ads for the online broker.
  • Honda Fit - A mildly interesting car ad.
  • National Guard "They Call Me Warrior" - A music video featuring Kid Rock singing and Dale Earnhardt driving.
  • Coke Zero and Quantum of Solace - For some reason the drink and the movie are sharing an ad.
  • Fathom Metropolitan Opera - See the opera (and other events) "live" in a movie theater.
  • Down Syndrome - An ad for a charity foundation.
  • Regal and Sprint - A "turn off your cell phone" reminder, the last one of several.
  • Zack and Miri Make a Porno - Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks star in a film about a couple of friends so desperate for money that they make a porn movie. For some reason the ad doesn't mention that it's directed by Kevin Smith.
  • Sex Drive - A high school boy and friends do a road trip to meet the boy's online girlfriend.
  • Bride Wars - Two best friends are getting married a couple of weeks apart, but the venue double-books them so they have to choose who gets the date. Looks lame.
  • Four Christmases - A couple who normally travel far away to avoid family holiday gatherings are stuck in town by airport troubles, and have to deal with the family holiday gatherings.
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop - An out-of-shape wannabe cop gets a job as a mall cop, and has to deal with a real crisis.

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