It depends on what sort of teenager you were (or are), and what kind of city you dreamed of conquering at
But the movie "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," taking place all over New York City during one offhandedly
eventful night, is a modest charmer -- the sort of date movie I would've liked when I was 16 or 17, if only
because the beanpole-geek-so-uncool-he's-cool protagonist, played by the deceptively skillful Michael Cera,
secures for himself a dream of a romantic partner, played by the equally disarming Kat Dennings.
Cera, the co-star of "Superbad" and "Juno," doesn't have to play "down" to high school age. The way he acts, and reacts, he's especially astute at capturing a certain kind of young adult, perched on a fence between hesitant adolescence and premature middle age.
Dennings is a little further along; she's a sleepy-eyed, corner-of-the-mouth wiseacre, a reluctant bombshell. In "Nick and Norah" you may not believe someone like her would find herself so much lower on the social food chain than Nick's bratty, horrible "Mean Girls"-inspired ex, played by Alexis Dziena. Yet Dennings draws you into the character's interior life. She and Cera share a knack for deadpan comedy. Neither performer lets you feel the strain of actors delivering a big scene, or even a heightened dramatic moment. They're throwaway artists who manage to win audiences over to their wry, sweet way of seeing things.
The film comes from a novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Nick (Cera) is a graduating high school senior, raised in the New Jersey suburbs, currently nursing a broken heart. His ex, Tris (Dziena, unable to humanize the "Heathers" bitchery of her role), has moved on. Nick is stuck, consoling himself with making his latest heartache mix CD: "Road to Closure, Vol. 12."
He's also the lone heterosexual member of an alt-rock band. The plot -- a series of obstacles and contrivances and coincidences -- kicks in when Norah, the daughter of a high-rolling music industry executive, and her hard-drinking pal Caroline (Ari Graynor, really funny) catch Nick's act at a club. Thus begins an all-night odyssey, Scorsese's "After Hours" cut with plenty of cream and sugar. As Nick and Norah crisscross the island with their respective posses in search of their favorite band rumored to be playing somewhere in Manhattan, the two eventually intersect long enough to realize they're interested in each other. The film coasts on the appeal of its stars, and its depiction of Manhattan as a place where your true self can find true love.
The soundtrack's full of fresh, below-the-radar (for Hollywood) alt-rock, and in an unfortunate echo of Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown," the main characters' destiny is sealed once Norah gets hold of the mix CDs Nick makes for his callous ex. Some of the bits smack of pandering, such as a gross-out gag involving Norah's drunk friend retrieving a piece of gum from a Port Authority restroom toilet. And it's too bad "Nick and Norah" settles for setting up a romantic triangle wherein two of the characters seem like real people, and the third -- Nick's ex -- is pure caricature.
But director Peter Sollett loosens up the material every chance he can. As Nick bombs around in his yellow Yugo (which everybody keeps mistaking for a taxi), the film charts the increasingly involving progression of what could've been an ordinary teen romance. Sollett works easily and well with Cera and Dennings, and lends a touch of awkward realism to what, from a screenwriting perspective, is pure formula.
Sollett's earlier feature "Raising Victor Vargas" was a wonderful debut film. It's too bad six full years had to pass before "Nick and Norah." And it'll be a crime if it takes Sollett six years to make a follow-up.
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic material, including teen drinking, sexuality, language and crude behavior).
Running time: 1:29
Starring: Michael Cera (Nick); Kat Dennings (Norah); Alexis Dziena (Tris); Ari Graynor (Caroline) Aaron Yoo (Thom); Jay Baruchel (Tal).
Directed by Peter Sollett; written by Lorene Scafaria, based on the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan; photographed by Tom Richmond; edited by Myron Kerstein; production design by David Doernberg; music by Mark Mothersbaugh; produced by Kerry Kohansky, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz and Andrew Miano. A Columbia Pictures release.
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Movie Review by Michael Phillips on Video
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Movie Trailer
About the Movie "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist"
Two people are thrust together for one hilarious, sleepless night of adventure in a world of mix tapes, late-night living, and, live, loud music. Nick (Michael Cera) frequents New York's indie rock scene nursing a broken heart and playing the bass with his queercore band, The Jerk Offs. Norah (Kat Dennings) is questioning pretty much all of her assumptions about the world. Though they have nothing in common except for their taste in music, their chance encounter leads to an all-night quest to find a legendary band's secret show and ends up becoming a first date that could change both their lives.
A love letter to youth, destiny and downtown Manhattan, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist takes audiences on a music-fueled tour of the streets of the Lower East Side with a couple trying to figure out who they want to be-and where their favorite band is playing.
Columbia Pictures and Mandate Pictures Presents a Depth of Field Production, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. The film stars Michael Cera (Superbad), Kat Dennings (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Alexis Dziena (Fool's Gold), Ari Graynor (Mystic River), Aaron Yoo (21) and Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder). It is directed by Peter Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas). The screenplay is by Lorene Scafaria from the novel by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan and and the film is produced by Kerry Kohansky (American Dreamz), Chris Weitz (American Pie), Paul Weitz (In Good Company) and Andrew Miano (The Golden Compass). Joe Drake, Nathan Kahane and Adam Brightman serve as Executive Producers. The director of photography is Tom Richmond (Chapter 27), the film is edited by Myron Kerstein (Garden State). Production designer is David Doernberg (Junebug) with costumes by Sandra Hernandez (El Cantante). The music is by Mark Mothersbaugh (The Royal Tenenbaums) and the music supervisor is Linda Cohen (There Will Be Blood).
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist has been rated PG-13 for "Mature thematic material including teen drinking, sexuality, language and crude behavior." The running time is 89 minutes.
About the Cast "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist"
MICHAEL CERA (Nick)
Has become one of the most sought after actors in the business. After garnering major critical acclaim for his portrayal of George-Michael Bluth in the Emmy AwardŽ winning Fox series "Arrested Development," Cera quickly found himself amongst the young comedy elite when Judd Apatow cast him as the lead in the hit film, Superbad. The film, written by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, nabbed the top box office gross two weeks running and quickly became one of the most talked about films of 2007. On the heels of Superbad, Cera co-starred in the OscarŽ nominated Juno opposite Ellen Page and former "Arrested Development" co-star Jason Bateman.
Cera recently finished shooting the lead role in Youth in Revolt, a film based on his favorite book, for director Miguel Arteta and the Weinstein Company, He will also star opposite Jack Black in the Apatow produced feature, The Year One directed by Harold Ramis. Cera recently landed the title role in the highly anticipated Scott Pilgrim vs. The World a film based on the Oni Press graphic novel "Scott Pilgrim Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life." The film will begin shooting in 2009 and will be directed by Edgar Wright
Past credits include a young Chuck Barris in George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Frequency with Dennis Quaid.
Cera's television credits include "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job", "Tom Goes to the Mayor," regular roles on the ABC Family series "I Was a Sixth Grade Alien," and Fox's "The Grubbs;" a guest starring role in the CW's popular "Veronica Mars," the telefilms "Custody of the Heart," "Familiar Stranger," and "Walter and Harry," as well as the award-winning telefilm "My Louisiana Sky." Last year Cera launched a web based series entitled Clark and Michael, which he co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in with Clark Duke. The series received tremendous attention and was nominated for several Webby Awards.
Cera currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Toronto.
KAT DENNINGS (Norah)
Is one of Hollywood's rising young stars. She
co-starred with Steve Carell and Catherine Keener in Universal's smash hit The 40 Year Old Virgin and was seen last February co-starring opposite Robert Downey, Jr. and Anton Yelchin in Charlie Bartlett.
Dennings most recently co-starred in the Columbia Pictures / Happy Madison feature The House Bunny with Anna Faris, Katharine McPhee, and Rumer Willis. Dennings plays an outspoken feminist college student who clashes with Shelley (Faris), an ex-Playboy bunny, when she becomes housemother to her and her misfit sorority sisters in order to increase their popularity on campus.
Dennings is currently filming Shorts, written and directed by Robert
Rodriguez, with co-stars Leslie Mann and William H. Macy. The film centers on a group of young outcasts who are swept into an unexpected adventure when
they find a mysterious box in their neighborhood.
Other film credits include New Line's Raise Your Voice, where her performance was singled out by The New York Times, Down in the Valley, opposite Edward Norton, London with Jessica Biel, and Big Momma's House 2 with Martin Lawrence. She appeared in IFC's Wanderlust for directors Robert Pucini and Shari Springer Berman and was selected to participate in the prestigious 2005 Sundance Filmmaker's Lab where she worked with Robert Redford on director Dante Harper's Dreamland.
For the small screen, Dennings has appeared on some of television's most
critically acclaimed dramas including a recurring role on NBC's "E.R.," a guest-
starring role on a highly publicized "CSI: Miami / New York" sweeps cross-over episode and a controversial role on "Without a Trace" on CBS. She also starred opposite Bob Saget in the WB series "Raising Dad." The 21- year-old is perhaps best known for her standout guest-starring role as Jenny Brier, a teen who hires Samantha to do publicity for her Bat Mitzvah, in HBO's "Sex and the City."
Dennings currently resides in Los Angeles and enjoys writing and filmmaking.
ALEXIS DZIENA (Tris)
Recently finished shooting Disney's When in Rome, opposite Kristen Bell and directed by Mark Steven Johnson. In February 2008, Dziena was seen starring opposite Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey in the breakout role of 'Gemma' in Warners Brothers feature film Fool's Gold directed by Andy Tennant. Last year, she completed filming the independent feature Sex and Breakfast, opposite Macaulay Culkin. This year, Dziena can be seen in Green Street Film's feature Tenderness opposite Russell Crowe. Dziena is often remembered for her memorable performance in Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers opposite Bill Murray and Sharon Stone for Focus Features.
Dziena's television credits include starring opposite Marcia Gay Harden in the Lifetime film She's Too Young and in 2005 Dziena was a series regular on ABCs Invasion produced by Thomas Schlamme.
A born and bred New Yorker, Dziena holds a BFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and currently spends her time between New York and Los Angeles.
ARI GRAYNOR (Caroline)
Most recently finished shooting Miguel Arteta's Youth in Revolt, in which she will star with Steve Buscemi, Michael Cera and Justin Long, as well as in Drew Barrymore's feature directorial debut, Whip It!, opposite Ellen Page and Kristen Wiig.
Graynor was last seen starring with Catherine Keener and Ellen Page in An American Crime, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Her additional film credits include roles in the following: Game 6 (Sundance Film Festival 2005) with Michael Keaton and Robert Downey Jr; The Great New Wonderful with Maggie Gyllenhaal; Bereft, directed by Tim Daly and Clark Matthias; Christopher Guest's For Your Consideration; and Book of Love (Sundance Film Festival 2004). Her feature film debut was in Clint Eastwood's Academy AwardŽ winning film Mystic River.
Graynor has starred on Broadway twice, making her debut in Donald Margulies's Brooklyn Boy at the Manhattan Theater Club, which garnered her a 2005 Clarence Derwent Award. Two years later she starred in The Little Dog Laughed, a 2007 Tony Award nominee for Best Play. She also appeared in the hit off-Broadway play Dog Sees God.
Graynor is perhaps most known for her portrayal of Meadow Soprano's troubled roommate, Caitlin, on "The Sopranos." Her additional television credits include roles on "Law & Order: SVU," "Veronica Mars," "CSI Miami" and "Numbers."
AARON YOO (Thom)
2007 was quite the year for Aaron Yoo and 2008 and 2009 are promising to be even better. In April of 2007 Aaron starred opposite Shia LaBeouf in the sleeper hit Disturbia. In May of the same year he played the main character in the sweet World War II drama American Pastime and after receiving tons of accolades at the Sundance Film Festival, Rocket Science hit theatres across America in August 2007. In March 2008 he had a lead role opposite Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey in 21. Yoo next co-starred in the Sundance hit, The Wackness, which opened in July of 2008. In early 2009, he will star in Friday the 13th for producer Michael Bay. He is currently shooting Labor Pains opposite Lindsay Lohan, playing her boyfriend and The Good Guy opposite Scott Porter. In September he begins work as the lead bad guy in Kid Cannabis for director/writer John Stockwell and is awaiting a release date for the sci-fi drama Game in which he stars opposite Gerard Butler and Michael C. Hall.
Yoo's career began Off-Broadway where he starred in U.S. and world premiere productions including "Where Do We Live" at the Vineyard Theatre, "wAve" and "Savage Acts" for the Ma-Yi Theatre Company, "Cellophane" at the Flea Theatre, and the National Asian-American Theatre Co.'s "Fuenteovejuna". Other NYC credits include "The Gifted Program" at the LAByrinth and "Karaoke Stories" for the Imua! Theatre Company. Yoo then turned his talents to the small screen, with guest-appearances on shows such as "Law & Order: SVU," "Love Monkey" and "Ed." He most recent TV appearance was a recurring role opposite Penn Badgely on The WB's "The Bedford Diaries," which was created and executive produced by Tom Fontana.
Born in Dallas and raised in East Brunswick, NJ, Yoo earned a BA in Theatre from the University of Pennsylvania. In what little downtime he has these days, he practices his DJ skills, plays the cello and pole vaults. He is also a soccer fiend and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
JAY BARUCHEL (Tal)
Before his debut as the star of the critically acclaimed FOX series, "Undeclared," Jay Baruchel was relatively new to American audiences. However, roles in a string of films since, including the Academy AwardŽ winning movie Million Dollar Baby opposite Clint Eastwood, Hillary Swank and Morgan Freeman have helped cement Jay's place as a rising star in Hollywood. This summer, Baruchel will star in Tropic Thunder, opposite Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. Just Buried, a film he stars in opposite Rose Byrne will also debut this summer at the Montreal Comedy Festival in July. Baruchel recently completed She's Out of My League for DreamWorks, in which he plays the romantic lead and will soon begin work on DreamWorks' animated feature, How To Train Your Dragon, as the voice of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third. It was also recently announced that Baruchel will star opposite Seth Rogen in Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, a feature length film based on a short film they completed by the same name. Baruchel will also executive produce.
Baruchel reunited with "Undeclared" creator Judd Apatow last summer in Universal Pictures smash hit Knocked Up opposite Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl. Other feature film credits include Real Time, opposite Randy Quaid, Fanboys for the Weinstein Company, in which four guys from the Midwest drive across the country to honor the wish of their dying friend: to watch Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch, I'm Reed Fish co-starring Alexis Bledel, which premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival as well as the Canadian independent film Fetching Cody which premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, Nemesis Game, Rules of Attraction and in the memorable role of Vic Munoz, the obsessed Led Zeppelin fan in Almost Famous.
Baruchel began acting at age twelve when he landed a job on the Nickelodeon hit television series "Are You Afraid of the Dark?", transforming what was to be a one-time guest appearance into a recurring role. The role was a springboard for his career, leading to his first Canadian series, "My Hometown."
Baruchel fulfilled his dream and directed a short film entitled Edgar & Jane which he also wrote, produced and shot in Montreal. He hopes to continue to direct films. Baruchel currently resides in Montreal and is an avid hockey and soccer fan.
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Movie Review Film Critic Michael Phillips Reviews the movie Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Cast Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Alexis Dziena, Ari Graynor, Aaron Yoo, Jay Baruchel
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Movie Review, Movie Trailer, Movie Production Notes, Synopsis, About the Movie, About the Cast