Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist is a great film. I know this, because the gang was lucky enough to get tickets to a press screening through the fabulous Biscuit, who was generous enough to share them with us. Anyway, here is our extra early review (if you wanted to read one from the Globe or The Toronto Star, you'd have to wait until Friday).
Nick and Nora is, like so many of the best offerings from American cinema today, a winsome teen comedy about coming of age and the manifold problems it causes. Nora is the perpetually single daughter of a famous music executive who keeps getting played by her asshole ex/"friend with benefits", who uses her for her connections in the music industry. Nick is an aspiring musician who has just been dumped by Nora's schoolyard nemesis, Tris. While Nick and Nora have never met, Nora asks Nick to pose as her boyfriend for "5 minutes" in front of her schoolmates when she randomly spots and approaches him at a bar. The rub? NIck has no idea the particular schoolmate Nora is trying to get off her back about always being dateless is none other than Tris. And so it begins, a night of Nick and Nora pretending to be together while getting to know each other, chasing down drunken friends who disappear, and, all the while, looking for "Where is Fluffy?", their favourite band, which is scheduled to do a secret show somewhere unknown in Manhattan that night.
Nick and Nora might sound somewhat derivative. A sort of "Superbad" meets "Juno," but despite what you might think, it says something that reads as very new The cast is headed by the enormously talented Michael Cera (who is this time cast not at all ironically as the hearthrob), and the sardonically likeable, unusually beautiful, refreshingly voluptuous Kat Dennings. Dennings and Cera have real chemistry as this perfectly compatible couple who fluke into meeting each other. It's obvious from the beginning that Nick and Nora (not just because of their alliterative names) are destined to be together, but there are many hurdles they must overcome in order to do so. No, these aren't the cliched devices of dragons that need slaying or parents who want to keep them apart; instead, they are their own worst enemies. Nick is obsessed with a girl who cruellly dumped him on his birthday, while Nora spends most of her time catering to an attention-seeking best female friend who expects Nora to clean up all her drunken messes (literally, and figuratively, speaking). What these kids have to learn before they can fall in love with each other is that they are worthy of someone who can actually reciprocate their feelings. In other words, where Juno was a story about a teenager who reduced her own self-worth to the status of being a vessel to carry another woman's long-awaited baby and Superbad was about bromance, Nick and Nora learn how to have a functional heterosexual romance.
The other refreshing part about Nick and Nora is that it is not overwhelmingly heterosexist for a romantic comedy. Nick's bandmates are gay and Nick is cool with that. In fact, at one point, when his bandmates are giving him a hard time over his obsession with ex-girlfriend Tris, Nick replies, "Guys, you don't know what it's like to be straight! It's horrible." Indeed, for the first three quarters of the movie, where doormats Nick and Nora act as though they are the minor characters in the movie-of-the-week adaptations of their own lives, straight love does seem horrible. That is, until they allow themselves to be happy with each other, instead of wallowing in low self-esteem, punishing themselves with unrequited love for selfish people who only want to abuse them.
So, go see Nick and Nora. It won't remind you of your first love. Oh no, it's not nearly that violent, nor as passionate. But, as one of the movie's latter scenes highlights, it will remind you of the first time love didn't feel painful, but felt really good.