By Sandra Kraisirideja
There hasn’t been a great movie about teenagers since John Hughes decided to write slapstick kid’s comedies like “Home Alone.” A movie like “Superbad” is funny, but it lacked any dramatic elements to make it something more than just a zany teenage comedy. Even with all the craziness that takes place in “16 Candles,” the characters do grow up emotionally.
By its title, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” suggests that music will be a central part of the movie’s theme. Surprisingly, there is little that is memorable about the music in the movie and even the soundtrack is hardly noticeable.
The movie has some nice moments, but they aren’t enough to make it memorable.
Up-and-coming actors Michael Cera and Kat Dennings play the tile characters Nick and Norah. The two New Jersey teenagers are from the same town, but meet by chance one night at a New York City bar where Nick’s band, The Jerk Offs, is playing.
Norah has an interest in Nick from the start, but Nick is still pining over his ex-girlfriend, Tris, who dumped him unceremoniously on his birthday. Tris shows up at Nick’s gig with another guy for no apparent reason except to screw with Nick’s emotions.
Tris is jealous of Norah because her dad is a famous record producer and takes any chance she can to put Norah down. At the bar, Norah decides to fake a boyfriend to avoid Tris’ put downs and chooses Nick, not realizing that Tris and Nick used to date.
The rest of the movie is all about Norah liking Nick, but feeling that he’ll never like her because he still has feelings for Tris, and what is she going to do to make him see how awful Tris really is and that they should be together?
All this teenage angst gets played out while Nick and Norah, along with two members of Nick’s band and Norah’s best friend, race around New York City to find a secret performance by a band called Where’s Fluffy.
The movie tries to capture the exuberance and unpredictability of teenagers discovering love for the first time, but falls short of its goal. The script lacks an emotional depth that would help the audience care about the main characters.
The plot would have been more believable if Nick and Norah were in college instead of high school, The way they run around New York City hopping from one bar to the next there begs the questions, “How are they getting into all those bars?” Perhaps I was too much a square growing up to know that that kind of activity is the norm.
The performances by the up-and-coming cast are marginal. Cera is best known to teenage audiences after his turn in “Superbad,” where he played a socially awkward, shy teenager. His character in “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” is not an exact copy of his performance in “Superbad” but there are definite similarities.