If a playlist could define a lifetime, what would be on it? Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist proves that sometimes the small things in life turn out to be the big things, and that the perfect song can define any moment.
Directed by Peter Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas) and based on the book by Rachel Cohn, Playlist offers the same quick-witted humor as 2007’s Juno, which also featured Michael Cera (Superbad, Arrested Development). The young cast ultimately serves up a performance that is fun and energetic, making for an entertaining experience.
Cera plays the slightly awkward yet loveable Nick, the only straight member of his band, The Jerk Offs, and whose recent birthday breakup with his promiscuous girlfriend, Tris (Alexis Dziena of Fool’s Gold), leaves him heartbroken. Tris nonchalantly discards the playlists Nick burns for her in efforts to win her back, while unbeknownst to him, the forgotten mix CDs are listened to and loved by Tris’s classmate, Norah (Kat Dennings of The 40-Year-Old Virgin).
Having found her “musical soul mate,” Norah meets Nick and embarks on an all-night journey to find the elusive band Fluffy, scouting popular New York clubs like Bowery Ballroom to track down the secret show. With their friends in tow, the pair scours the city, getting caught up in a few drunken and Jesus-and-drag-queen-ridden adventures along the way. It proves to be a night of infinite possibilities.
Anyone can identify with Cera’s inherent awkwardness, which ultimately makes Nick all the more realistic. As in previous roles, he maintains a sense of sarcasm that chimes in at the perfect moments, like when a couple mistakes his beat-up yellow car for a cab and takes advantage of its back seat.
Dennings balances Norah’s carefree yet protective nature. Between searching for Fluffy, keeping tabs on her friend Caroline and dealing with her hipster boyfriend, Norah finds herself falling for Nick. Viewers can agree with Norah’s internal struggles, and Dennings makes the transitions effortlessly.
However, Ari Graynor (Mystic River) makes the movie, shining throughout Playlist as Norah’s boozed-up best friend, Caroline. As a girl who likes to barf in the same places and chow down on Norah’s homemade turkey sandwiches after a night of partying, Graynor’s performance is both funny and relatable.
Other memorable moments come courtesy of Jay Baruchel (Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder), who plays Norah’s brown-nosing rock star boyfriend, Tal. Jonathan Bradford Wright of Broadway’s Spring Awakening also makes an appearance as Lethario, a hook-up of one of Nick’s band members.
The “infinite playlist” Nick and Norah bond over surfaces in the feature’s soundtrack. Indie rock bands like Vampire Weekend, We Are Scientists and Shout Out Louds lend their music to the movie, helping chronicle the teens’ night of fun and frenzy.
Another strength viewers will appreciate is the natural chemistry between Dennings and Cera. The two bicker and argue like an old married couple, such as when Nick accuses Norah of being jealous and she angrily punches him in the throat. Eventually, however, they both find refuge in each other and the music that brought them together.
The supporting cast, which includes Andrew Yoo (Disturbia) and Rafi Gavron (Inkheart), helps make the movie feel like a constant party and offers some of the funnier scenes. Overall, the energy and excitement of New York City at night add to the script’s humor, making it seem like anything is possible.
Playlist proves to be both a charming and lighthearted comedy. Those who enjoyed movies like Juno and Garden State will find that Nick and Norah have an infinite number of ways to keep viewers interested.