Nick isn’t cool—he’s neurotic, drives a Yugo, and is pining for his ex-girlfriend, the shallow, man-eating Tris. He leaves long, rambling messages on her cell phone and spends hours making mix CD after mix CD (like “Road to Closure, Vol. 12”), which she throws into the trash, providing music-lover Norah the chance to retrieve them. Norah isn’t cool either—she always plays by the rules and seems to spend most of her time looking after her unreliable friend, Caroline. But a chance encounter and a surprising proposition at a New York City club lead Nick and Norah on an unforgettable journey through the city’s indie music scene. A quest to find their favorite band’s secret show turns into a night they’ll never forget.
But their nocturnal adventures are interrupted by their search for Norah’s party-hard best friend, Caroline (played by the hilarious Ari Graynor). Nick and his band-mates try to help Norah find Caroline before they miss the show, but Nick’s cluelessness very nearly destroys his chance with our “hetero heroine.” However, in a moment of clarity (to the tune of Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing”), he recognizes his mistake. But is it too late to repair the damage he’s done?
As much as it tells the story of the immediate attraction and growing affection between the leads, the film is also a love song to New York City, as it follows Nick and Norah all over the city that never sleeps from dusk ‘til dawn.
The film stars Michael Cera as the bumbling, awkward Nick and Kat Dennings (currently onscreen in the sitcom Two Broke Girls) as the self-deprecating Norah. This movie is better than your average teen hipster comedy, in part due to the skills of Kat Dennings and Michael Cera, as well as the genuine affection the movie demonstrates for indie music. The lead characters’ mutual passion for music serves as a means of communication and the focal point for their growing attraction. Their attempts at conversation are hilariously awkward and clumsy, so their similar taste in music plays a vital role in their budding romance and attempts to articulate their feelings.
Kat Dennings’ portrayal of Norah’s insecurity is endearing and there are scene-stealing turns by Nick’s ex, the perpetually drunk Caroline, and Nick’s well-meaning, but inept, band-mates. The film is quirky and charming, fueled by a vibrant, contemporary soundtrack and smart, funny dialogue.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is based on the young adult novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. WRL also has a copy of the soundtrack, which is well worth listening to for its assorted mix of indie darlings, including Army Navy, Band of Horses, and Vampire Weekend.
Check the WRL catalog for Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.