Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist brings together two people who embark on a quest to do two things. The first and most important, obviously, is to find the secret location where their mutual favorite band, Where’s Fluffy?, is playing. The second is to find the location of one of their drunk friends, who goes missing thanks to a plot convenience. They actually depart from the first search in order to go find the drunk, as they figure she might end up in big trouble thanks to her state of mind. Given the zany adventures they get up to, they might be right.
Our main character is Nick (Michael Cera), a nice guy who is still heartbroken after his now ex-girlfriend (Alexis Dziena) broke up with him. He makes mixtapes which she throws out, but they get picked up out of the trash by her friend, Norah (Kat Dennings). So you know at this point, assuming you haven’t seen a trailer or even the poster or you don’t know the title, that Nick and Norah will at some point come into contact with one another. We just don’t know when or for how long or how intense their connection will be.
They wind up pairing up in the scavenger hunt for both the aforementioned band and for Norah’s friend, Caroline (Ari Graynor). Their relationship grows as they progress through the city, looking for both things, but not a whole lot really happens, and they jump around a lot with little coherency. They’ll run into people that they know, and they’ll interact with them, but none of it really matters, as this is a story of two people with little room for everyone else.
There isn’t much of a plot to guide these characters, so random, chance encounters have to give us enough content to fill our 90 minute movie. They all end with some sort of development, good or bad, for these characters, but it feels very forced every time they run into someone they already have seen, like they’ve being followed. The story involving the search for the two parties ends up serving as a way to ensure that a real plot isn’t required, and while it gets people moving, it doesn’t get them doing things of interest.
It’s like watching someone on a real scavenger hunt — one where their partner is a stranger of the opposite sex. Something interesting will probably come out of it, but for most of the time, you’re just going to watch two people drive around and chat. While good dialogue is always enjoyable to listen to, what you hear in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist isn’t anything special. It’s not bad and it’s not as stupid as a lot of other teen flicks like this, but there’s nothing intriguing about it.
There’s not much to the characters, either. They spend so much time talking about the things they’re chasing that they don’t really get to develop or even let us know who they are. Anyone could be doing this and the film would be the same. Well, that’s not exactly true, as “anyone” might get us some more interesting people. That would actually be an improvement, as there might be something to pay attention to. As it is, I was dozing frequently as the movie played.
What did keep me awake was the soundtrack. When your film involves mixtapes and you have the word “playlist” in your title, I guess you need a good soundtrack. Well, I enjoyed listening to the music in this film. It was energetic, mood setting, and I simply liked the film’s taste in song choices. That’s enough for me to give the soundtrack a recommendation. I’m not quite sold on the film as a whole, but the songs in the film get a thumbs up. That’s something, right?
The actors also do, if only because they’re likable and didn’t make me hate them by the end of the 90 minutes of my life that I surrendered to theirs. Okay, so Michael Cera annoyed me, but what else is new? The supporting cast is fine, Dennings is fun to watch, and Cera is almost too good at playing the overly nice guy. But something about his voice and demeanor annoy me whenever I see him. But he can be funny and being nice isn’t exactly a sin, so I don’t mind watching a movie starring him every now and then.
There are a few funny parts and the film is sweet on the whole. I just wanted something more to happen. There are interesting people introduced, and if they would have been expanded upon, the film might have been more interesting. For instance, Nick is in a band, and each member seems to have his own personality — for the few minutes that we actually get to interact with them, anyway. Dennings’ character also has an on/off boyfriend played by Jay Baruchel, but he’s not given much time, either. It’s disappointing seeing these potentially interesting elements be ignored in favor of a boring scavenger hunt.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is disappointing and not really worth your time. It starts off fine, but degenerates into a boring scavenger hunt with random scenes included in an attempt to hold our attention. If the soundtrack wasn’t so much fun to listen to, a nap would have been a better use of my time. Like the blackout drunk character in this film, I would have preferred to sleep than sit through Nick and Norah’s adventures in the middle of the night.