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NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST, 2008
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NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST MOVIE POSTER
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Movie Review

Directed by Peter Sollett
Starring Michael Cera, Kat Dennings

Review by Eli Manning


SYNOPSIS:

High school student Nick O'Leary, member of the Queercore band The Jerk Offs, meets college-bound Norah Silverberg and she asks him to be her boyfriend for five minutes.

REVIEW:

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is one of those 'what if' movies. What if they actually took another stab at the screenplay? What if they just used the brilliance of Michael Cera's close ups and how he tells us so much with just one look? What if they weren't so worried about getting the PG=13 rating? What if they took the interesting character of Norah in the book and didn't turn her into a cliche in the film? What if, what if, what if.

I was a 90's teenager so I just missed out on the John Hughes era and perhaps don't quite understand this era of teenage movies. But what I see now is flat one-dimensional characters that we truly never get to know, while even now if you take a look at Hughes' films (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club to name a few) you see teenagers of today, yesterday and 20 years from now. Kids who are trying their best to feel grownup, but in those times of emotional inner and outer conflict, you see through the stained glass of who they really are. There was only one time when we got that in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

There's a brilliant shot in this film where Michael Cera's character (Michael Cera) is driving in the rain in his car in the middle of the night. We see him through the front car window as the windshield whipper is moving. He's alone and vulnerable and wonders about so many things as many teenagers do. We see who Nick truly is for the first time. Problem is that the movie is almost over and we're wondering what took them so long.

The beginning scene in this film when Nick calls his ex and leaves a message was so blundered and shot wrong, it screws up the next 30 minutes of the movie. This was the key scene in the film with an actor in Cera who can pull it off so we root and stay with him for the next 90 minutes. But what they did is they got fancy and cut the two minute scene into about 19 shots with camera movements. Why?

I looked back to another similar scene in 1989's Say Anything. John Cusack is on the phone leaving a message with the girl he loves. Cusack's character in this film is what Cera's character was suppose to be in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. A charming but insecure idealist who just wants to do what he loves and be with a girl he cares for. It's that simple. In that shot, director Cameron Crowe, a man who loves to move the camera, just leaves it to Cusack to pull off the emotional beats of the scene and shoots that two minute scene in just one shot. Cusack is brilliant in it and we follow this crazy but emotionally charged character no matter what for the next 2 hours. Michael Cera is on par with Cusack now and that's all the director needed to do. But he didn't.

How and why did they screw this movie up?

This film reeks of underestimation. It's like the film's producer's, writer and director don't truly understand who teenager's really are. Why can't they show us something that we don't already see on those teenage TV shows? Didn't they learn anything from John Hughes? This creative team did grow up in his era. It makes you think that they didn't even watch his films. That, or they thought that the teenagers from this generation doesn't get it!

From my experience, the teenagers of today are extremely smart people who are truly looking for any kind of voice and/or role model. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist could of given us this. It was the perfect book to turn into a movie and it had two terrific stars to play the lead characters in Cera and Kat Dennings (Nora). And they f*cked it up!

There are so many problems with this film. I'll try to break it down in 3 key points:

#1 - There are all of these interesting characters who are friends/enemies/ex's of Nick and Norah. But we never get to know any of them at all. One of Nick's friends and band-mates has 3 lines in the film!; and he's with the story from beginning to end. There are so many moments for the filmmaker's to let us know these people. The more we know them, the more we know Nick and Norah because these people are their main influences. Unfortunately everyone plays a scaled up version of a background performer.

#2 - Nick and Norah's main antagonist, Nick's girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena), is just a one-dimensional cliche bitch type. People are just not that easy to peg, so why do we have we see them in the movies. Let us in on why she's like this so we can relate to her and she's just not the evil black to the main character's goody white. The more complex she is, the more complex the film is and the more depth and emotion occurs within the viewer. When we start to really feel, then we are completely taken into this film. #3 - Music plays an important part in this film, but they never make it a character in the movie. This is what's suppose to bring Nick and Norah together but there isn't a 'voice' of music in the soundtrack. Meaning the music doesn't lift or carry the story arcs of the film and overall themes.

All in all this movie angered me because it should of been good. I know the original writer of the book Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn, is promoting this film on her website and myspace page, but I truly wonder what she really feels about it. I can't see her being happy about how they just didn't get her characters at all and basically filmed a Coles Notes version of her story.

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