Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is one of those magical, near-perfect youth romances, a film that so vividly reminds you of the glories of young love that you wish you were 18 again, full of hope, not jaded by life and love lost. Sassy, savvy and wistful, it throws two strangers together for one wild, unsupervised night in Manhattan, a night of searching for a lost, drunken friend and a mysterious, mythic band about to play an impromptu gig, of nightclubs that apparently never card anybody because these kids are too young to drink.
But that's OK. They're both "straight edge" types, as in edgy, hip kids who don't do drugs, booze or tobacco.
Nick ( Michael Cera) has just been dumped. Norah (Kat Dennings, adorable) is alone "again" at a bar where Nick's band is playing. She goes to school with Nick's ex, Tris (Alexis Dziena, elievably needy and cruel). She's been picking Nick's soulful mix CDs out of a trash can the trashy Tris has dumped them in. Imagine her surprise that the guy she begs "Be my boyfriend for five minutes," just to impress Tris, turns out to be the sensitive, cute but still shell-shocked Nick.
Norah has a pal, Caroline, transformed by actress Ari Graynor into the funniest underage blond drunk in New York City. She goes off with Nick's gay bandmates (a cute touch), who lose her. And Nick and Norah -- whom the band (Aaron Yoo and Rafi Gavron) )and we know were meant to be together but who can't seem to connect -- must dash hither and yon through the night in Nick's battered yellow Yugo, which every drunk in Soho thinks is a taxi.
There's a lot more of Juno about this Peter Sollett film of the Rachel Cohn/David Levithan novel than just the casting of the boy-nextdoor Cera in it. The dialogue is glib and too-too cute, full of put downs and hipster-kid jargon about "JAPS" (Jewish American Princesses, which Norah kinda/sorta is) and "bridge and tunnel" boys (non-Manhattanites).
She's " Englewood, up to no good," and he's "Hoboken, no jokin'." It'll never work.
Except that we know it will, despite the wild odyssey Caroline leads them on, staggering from train station to gutter to toilet, re-using the most disgusting stick of chewing gum in the history of the Big Apple.
It's smart. It's romantic. It's not coarse, crude, sexist or homophobic. It's High Fidelity meets Sixteen Candles, not that your average teen will spot that. But they won't need to. Nick and Norah is now, their generation's Say Anything. Don't let them keep it to themselves.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun