Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
PG-13 for mature thematic material including teen drinking, sexuality, language, and crude behavior.
Recommended for ages 16 and up
Run Time: 90 minutes
Quick Take: This genuinely sweet film deals in plenty of saltiness: Sex, Drinks, Rock and Roll! But parents will love it, too, even as they're hoping their kids never re-enact it. (Tip: Parents and teens can avoid embarrassment by attending separately.)
Teens Will Wish Infinite Playlist Went on Forever, and Will Be Glad If Their Parents Don't Tag Along
Moviegoers exiting Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist can probably be divided into two camps: teenagers who wonder why they're not having as much fun as the kids on the screen, and parents who worry that they are.
It's a brave, new world for the teenaged comedy, where boy meets girl, boy goes clubbing with girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy sleeps with girl on first date in dad's office. It makes you long for the good old days when Anthony Michael Hall coveted Molly Ringwald's underwear.
But here's the thing. Nick and Norah is good. Really good. So good, in fact, it will leave you smiling -- and believe it or not, charmed -- no matter which side of the generation gap you're watching it from.
That's not to say you're necessarily going to want to see it sitting next to your progeny (or them next to you). Even if you can get past all the talk about orgasms (a big "if"), your kids probably can't. Remember how you felt when Long Duk Dong kept feeling up Marlene? Bingo.
But, underneath all the sex talk and gross-out comedy is, a) a really funny movie, and b) a fable about a two off-beat teens who, on a madcap night, find each other via a shared love of indie music. Lorene Scafaria's screenplay (based on the book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan of the same name) shelves adolescent stereotypes in favor of fully formed characters. Nick's gay best buds are gay because they tell us so, not because they're being fabulous. And, that's refreshing -- even if they are channeling their energy toward getting Norah to wear a more bodacious bra.
All that brings up the question: How much of the premise is based on real life? Andrew Miano says his own adventures, and those of his co-producer (and, of course, the book), were key. "We'd each had a night like it in high school or college." he says. To which I say, "Gulp." Really? Clubbing at 17? Such incredulity is likely to be either shared among my parental peers, or have me laughed out of Dodge. Regardless, teens in the audience did relate -- found it irresistible -- laughing along with grownups at Nick's Yugo (a Yugo!) and dissolving completely at Michael Cera's inimitable deadpan. For Norah -- one of those smart, lovely girls who stands in the long high-school shadow of vixens like Tris -- they felt sisterhood. New York itself plays a character, locations so vivid (the shoot actually took place during the city-never-sleeps hours), the movie will no doubt lead to a cultish Nick and Norah: the New York Movie Tour. Like the movie, the soundtrack (the title's Playlist) will probably be recalled by today's teens as one of those post-adolescent rights of passage -- kind of like my own memory of Animal House.
It still leaves me asking about the realties of teens and clubbing.
It also makes me wonder what my mother thought when she saw Animal House.
Kids Will Like:
Teens. Will. Love. This. Movie. The audience I saw it with was so enamored of everything -- the characters, the New York setting -- they barely wanted to leave when the credits rolled. The biggest laughs came from gross-out humor, such as Caroline's misadventures in a Port Authority bathroom, and a running gag with a piece of gum that will have you potentially unable to chew gum ever again. Caroline, Norah's best friend, is the focal point for a lot of physical comedy, such as her scamming a transportation worker for his turkey sandwich. The debate over what to call Nick's band is off-color -- and very funny.
Parents Will Like:
Fondness for indie music is like a badge of honor among today's kids, and hearing the boast, "I've gotten so many people into that band," will have parents smiling with familiarity. The Yugo scenes -- especially the ones in which Nick's car is mistaken for a taxi -- will have you rolling in the aisles.