Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
I’d date one of these chicks … wait, which one’s a dude? Dammit.

Theatrical Release Date: 10/03/2008
Director: Peter Sollett
Cast: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Ari Graynor, Rafi Gavron, Aaron Yoo, Alexis Dziena

It seems that once a year, a movie comes along that’s dying to be the new “it” movie, capturing that all-too desirable demo of young adults. Lately, those films seem to contain Michael Cera. From “Superbad” to “Juno” and now to “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”, this new puppy dog for Generation Buy – or whatever the hell they’re called – is the common thread amongst a generation that I am, alas, now no longer a part of.

I actually don’t care so much for Cera. I don’t see a difference in any of his roles (or Justin Long’s … or Shia LaBeouf’s … what’s with the “it” actors of today?) and feel slighted to see the gawky, innocent kid with a big heart manage to get the girl of his dreams at the end of every film … what is this, a resurgence of Corey Haim (though, to be honest, I love me some Haim … and some Feldman … what can I say, the Corey’s are awesome and I’ll always live in the 80s).

My general malaise towards Cera aside, what made the film work for me were two things: the scavenger hunt-like element of the plot and Kat Dennings. While her name certainly isn’t as widespread as Cera’s, many film-goers will recognize her as the daughter from “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” or for the six of you who saw “The House Bunny“, she was the one who’s so happy they “hired the Exorcist” as the new house mother.

In any case, what Dennings may lack in recognizability, she makes up for in heart. She has such a sardonic sense to herself and an obvious facade about her character that only makes the equally obvious but underlying vulnerability to the role shine through even more. It’s clear her character is looking for love, not only in the romantic sense, but in that manner of making someone feel special and visible, when it seems that nothing they do matters to the world around them.

That’s probably a lot more introspection than this film may require but I will give the filmmakers credit for crafting a silly, mishap-driven vehicle in which I generally felt at ease and at home. While I could sit and nitpick at realism and general believability – the ride the characters endure throughout a single night in New York City, as they scramble to find the secret gig location of their favorite cult band, is fun and a nice diversion from the rigors of everyday life.

The casting department did a nice job of surrounding Cera and Dennings with actors that could handle the comedic elements on their own, leaving the leads free to concentrate on being cute and sweet. Jay Baruchel, Seth Meyers, Kevin Corrigan, John Cho and Eddie Kaye Thomas (as Jesus no less) all make appearances to help brighten up an otherwise angst driven agenda.

There certainly is a decent portion of the film spent watching Cera agonize over his ex-girlfriend and Dennings’ attempt at finding someone to like her for more than her connections in the music industry. But thanks to the comic touches (which includes the most amazing drag version of “12 Days of Christmas” ever created), the film avoids wading too deep in the despair and pity pool for more than it’s necessary.

As the title implies, one major driving force of the film is the music. Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo fame is the one behind the scenes in this regard and his list of music contributions to TV and film is constantly growing. Since I’ve passed the 30 barrier, I recognized all of 2 or 3 songs in the entire film … perhaps those of you who are hip and with it will do better. That being said, the music fit the tone of the film and matched well with the characters. I probably would have connected more with the plot had I been able to associate the songs with my life but thankfully, the film is entertaining enough regardless.

What we are left with is a sweet, pleasant comedy about two people recognizing what’s important in their lives and holding onto their ideals rather than succumbing to the easier way out (no matter how more likely that scenario plays out in the real world). If you’ve liked Cera’s previous films, this is a no-brainer and you’ll definitely enjoy it. Since I personally would like to see his character played by someone who does more than mime puppy dog faces, I’m only going to give “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” a 3 out of 5.

I did enjoy the film and look forward to rewatching it when it hits DVD, if I were ten years younger, this might be something akin to a “Say Anything” or “Garden State” (both of which I love) … but just like the characters, I’m not going to compromise my desire to see more multi-dimensional actors in films skewed for a younger demographic. There are good, young actors out there … it’s just a shame none of them can get a film greenlit right now and we’re forced to watch the same three or four people over and over and over again. Wow … I’m up really high on this soapbox … anyone have a ladder?