I mistakenly thought, upon seeing the advertisements for Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, that this film was aimed at my age demographic, and that it would try to evoke some kind of feeling that Garden State (see: one of my favorite films) did earlier. Admittedly, I did no real research on the film going in, and just knew that it starred stereotypical nerd Michael Cera and some gal I didn’t recognize (EDIT: but now remember quite well from “40 Year Old Virgin”). The commercials had music in it that I liked, and I knew from reading You Ain’t No Picasso that Bishop Allen had a brief cameo in it as themselves. You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I finally got to see the film.
Here’s a brief (and convoluted) summary of the film, as brought to you by wikipedia:
After seeing his ex-girlfriend, Tris, with a new boyfriend at his band’s gig, Nick O’Leary, a member of The Jerk Offs, is asked by college-bound Norah Silverberg to be her boyfriend for five minutes to prove something to her friend Tris. Little does Norah know, Nick is Tris’s ex-boyfriend, who Norah has developed a crush on even before seeing him. This is due to his mix CDs he had made for Tris after she broke up with him. Nick’s friends then attempt to set them up, thinking it would help Nick get over Tris.
The problem with this film, for me at least, lies in the sum of it’s parts. There are some great moments in here, ones that still stick with me since I saw it a few weeks back. But when combined with all the rest, it makes me realize how little anyone cared whether or not this reached an audience.
Right away in the film we’re introduced to the characters as they converge on a music venue in Manhatten. Nick and his band “The Jerkoffs” open for Bishop Allen. Herein lies the first issue that takes me out of the film. I’ve seen Bishop Allen and bands like them live and to get into the venue they were playing at, I had to prove to the scary guy at the door that I was of legal drinking age. So, even if this is an 18+ venue, why the hell is one of the characters drinking? How did this slip by the bartenders? I’m pretty sure that people in these venues aren’t THAT careless, are they? As we traverse the film further, we end up in more clubs and we see more young high schoolers getting it on with the liquid courage. Really?
I know that high schoolers drink. It’s one of those facts of science, like gravity and Thetans. But what I don’t get is how they can be so careless about it in a big city and not get any flak for it, or at least get picked up by the police. How is it that these morons can get away with so much shit and come out unscathed? Take the character of Caroline, the wasted partier / comedic relief of the film. Not a moment went by in that film where I didn’t wonder how the hell she survived. Granted, this is a comedy and things like this can’t really be challenged, but it did take me out of the film.
And then there was the overt “I’m cool because I listen to x” motif that really turned me off. At times, it was like watching a PR push from hipster central. We see a list of bands in the opening credits, and each of the characters echo the other’s tastes in music. In fact, it was hard to tell the characters apart because of this. Nick likes x, and Nora agrees, and “The Jerkoffs” agree, and the ex agrees, and they all agree that the fictional band “Where’s Fluffy” is where it’s at. They all decide to find “Fluffy” and they all turn on the same damn songs on their car rides to the potential hiding places. The whole music aspect to this film felt like it came from the point of view of someone out of touch with the current generations and their differing tastes in music.
And then there’s extremely awkward sex scene, which you can see being set up a mile away. It’s lame, uninspired, and feels very much like a ripoff of the flashback sex scene in Juno. We don’t see anything happen but still experience the awkwardness of it. They’re young, so this must be how it goes down..so to speak. Right?
But there are good things about this film. I’m not ALL doom and gloom. The way in which Nick and Nora’s feelings grow for each other doesn’t feel fake or forced. They genuinely seem attracted to each other. The acting on everyone’s part is energetic and no one feels like their just doing this for the hell of it. The side characters are colorful, and I believe them all (with the exception of the aforementioned Caroline). There’s a moment in the end of the film where Nick and Nora kiss while on an escalator. It’s all in slow motion and they glide off screen as the music swells. It’s a good moment.
If I had to give this film some kind of grade, I’d give it a C+. The filmmakers never quite figured out who to market this one to, and the end result is that it’s quite the forgettable little flick.
P.S. I don’t think I’ll ever chew gum again.