New York, New York

Michael Cera, full of teenage angst and fringe-music fanaticism, takes on the Big Apple in the cutesy, indie flick, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

In this not-so-typical teen comedy, Micheal Cera is Nick O’Leary, guitar player for a queer-core band from New Jersey.
In this not-so-typical teen comedy, Micheal Cera is Nick O’Leary, guitar player for a queer-core band from New Jersey.
Credit: 
Supplied
Michael Cera and Kat Dennings chase the elusive indie band Where’s Fluffy? in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
Michael Cera and Kat Dennings chase the elusive indie band Where’s Fluffy? in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
Credit: 
Supplied

Let’s be nostalgic for a moment. Remember high school and how wildly awkwardly heart-breaking and heart-warming it was? And how belligerently drunk we got? And how we ran around town looking for the amazing yet illusive band du jour? Yeah, it was cute and things haven’t changed much.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is an all-too-PG cute-overload of epic proportions worthy of the Warner Bros TV series 7th Heaven. Michael Cera plays the same delightful dork he always plays. In this case, he’s Nick O’Leary, the heart-broken fringe-music fanatic who is the one straight guy in The Jerk-Offs, a drummerless queer-core band from New Jersey.

Nick wallows in the throes of teenage angst trying to get over his whiny, superficial and—here’s the proverbial, yet timeless kicker—uber hot ex-girlfriend, Tris (Alexis Dziena). Tris loves male sexual attention, which is all-too-evident in her embarrassingly proto-sexy dance to Hot Chocolate’s “Sexy Thing” in the headlights of Nick’s Yugo by the Holland Tunnel. Then along comes Norah (Kat Dennings), the self-proclaimed straight-edge girl who picks Nick’s prodigal mix CDs out of the trash cans into which Tris tosses them, secretly in love with these sloppy seconds.

Complications arise on the fateful eve when the whole crew tromps into New York to catch a glimpse of the elusive indie band Where’s Fluffy. In a moment of desperation after her drunk tank-bound buddy Caroline (Ari Graynor) leaves her to sloppily mack on some beefcakes, Norah is caught alone, trying to prove to the incredulous Tris that she’s here with her “boyfriend” and not just a wallflower. When Tris calls Norah’s bluff, Norah serendipitously picks Nick for a spur-of-the-moment make-out-sesh and to cover as her boyfriend for five minutes, which turns into an ostensible lifetime.

What ensues is a night of chaos in the city that never sleeps as our two love-struck kids from Jersey navigate the thrill of NYC and young love, searching for the band of their dreams. Following Fluffy down the rabbit hole, they find a drag-queen-Jesus, anarchist-Zionists and Norah discovers that some boys are worth the underwire. But allow me to take a moment to wax lyrical on the figure of the female drunk, Caroline. The quintessential single party girl is ostensibly a warning sign to all us single chicks out there who don’t have boyfriends to tame our wily, feminine ways. But Caroline is the most powerful character in the film; she’s just Courtney-loving life, vomiting in ice cream freezers, sweet-talking food out of strangers, passing out in bus station bathrooms and fishing her cell phone—and more importantly—her gum out of barf-filled toilets.

Caroline is the free bird that will not be caged by the virgin-bitch dichotomy implicitly touted in Nick & Norah’s through the characters of Norah and Tris. Although she doesn’t get either love or her comeuppance at the flick’s conclusion, Caroline gets something invaluable that neither Norah nor Tris gets: an unscripted future. Caroline successfully stirs the pot of female identity. But sometimes Nick and Norah’s is a little too militantly PG. The scene that made me throw in the towel was when Nick gives Norah her first orgasm on the leather couch at the Electric Lady Studios, where essentially every famous rock band in history has cut albums. Yes, that would indeed be a hot place to fool around and has been duly added to my fantasy list, but this inherent hotness is undermined by the fact that Norah had her pants on.

Call me old-fashioned, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could fully experience the ecstatic throes of sexual pleasure in any state other than sans pants. The folks at Depth of Field should’ve just bitten the bullet and gone 14A, so that the audience have received the authenticity they deserve. Because, really, who in their right mind, let alone a couple of randy eighteen-year-olds would keep their pants on in the Electric Lady Studios?

And yes, Nick and Norah, in their awkward-yet-impassioned romp accidentally left the soundboard on. I’m sure when the two of them break up in Nick and Norah’s Last Waltz, Nick will include the sounds of Norah’s first orgasm in his Road to Closure, Volume 73 mix for her.

Regardless, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a cute little pedal-boat ride about getting over those individuals who are bad for us so that we can open ourselves up to those that are better for us. If we’re to believe Nick’s band mate’s gospel on the Beatles, they had it all right—all any of us wanna do is hold hands.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist will continue is now playing at the Capitol 7 Cinema (223 Princess Street).

For a review from the red carpet of the Toronto International Film Festival, please visit queensjournal.ca or see the September 16 issue of The Journal.

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