"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" shows how fun life can be when teenagers are allowed to live out their own romantic comedy.
Michael Cera plays Nick, an angst guitarist in a queercore band. He's so not over his recent dumping by the ultra-cute, but skanky Tris (Alexis Dziena) that he's already sending her a 12th mix tape...with the possible threat of more. She's so touched by the gesture that she can't wait to throw them in the trash.
Norah (Kat Dennings) not only retrieves them, but also believes she's found her musical soulmate with the mystery man. While Norah and Tris get along as well as tin foil in a microwave, fate brings them together at Nick's performance, where Norah asks Nick to pretend to be her boyfriend. One "meaningless" kiss later and they're bound on a quest of love lost and found as well as for the elusive band Where's Fluffy.
Six years removed from "Raising Victor Vargas," Director Peter Sollett takes us on a romantic search and rescue through New York's lower East Side. Foregoing typical teen raunchy for witty dialogue and an exceptional alt-rock soundtrack, Sollett invokes a sweet romantic vibe that hasn't been seen since Sixteen Candles. Tom Richmond's soft-focus cinematography makes the audience look forward to the next stop on their late night trip from the suburbs to Manhattan.
Cera and Dennings have an awkward tenderness that makes you cheer for them from the start. How many times can Cera play the role of Juno's baby daddy remains unknown, but he does it well enough to stave off being typecast...for now. Dennings has grown up a lot since "40 Year Old Virgin" and seems to have grasped that even as a star, less is often more. Ari Graynor as Caroline, Norah's drunken best friend, steals enough scenes to merit her own show on the CW. You'll never think of gum the same after seeing her performance.
The movie takes more than one trip to the Juno ATM from the opening credits to Cera's Nick. Chalk that up to scribe Lorene Scafaria being a BFF and writing partner of Diablo Cody. Nevertheless, while it may wear some of Juno's socks, it stands alone in it's greatness like any first kiss or shared playlist.
Billy Tatum gives "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" 5 (out of 5) Scoops.
"Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist." MPAA rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including sexuality, teen drinking, language and crude behavior. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. In general release.