Michael Cera is at that point in his career where everything he touches turns to gold.
That’s the main reason why “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” the film adaptation of the popular young adult novel, which settles at being a mediocre rom-com, will make money from the teenage demographic.
Michael Cera plays Nick, the only straight member of Queercore band The Jerk-Offs (tentatively titled). He is busy writhing in heartache after his too-hot-for-him girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena) tragically breaks his heart.
Norah, played by “The House Bunny” star Kat Dennings, is a friend but not a fan of Tris, but is the lucky recipient of Nick’s mopey mixed tapes after Tris throws them away. In fact, not only does she enjoy the music on the tapes, but she is halfway in love with Nick before she even meets him.
Therefore, by lucky coincidence, Norah picks Nick to masquerade as her “boyfriend” for the night to get back at Tris for implying that she had no chance to land a guy. Of course, Norah has no idea that this cute guy she has been eying all night and subsequently makes out with is Tris’s ex, but soon finds out when Tris, new boy in tow, jealously walks up and demands how the two know each other.
Ah, a night to never forget.
The whole story is supposed to take place over the course of one night, starting during the school day and ending at somewhere between six and eight a.m. the next day. Nick and Norah bond over a love for the band “Where’s Fluffy?” and spend a good portion of the night trying to find the band as well as her very drunk best friend (Ari Graynor).
The music in the movie which includes tracks from up-and-coming indie artists like Vampire Weekend and We Are Scientists, plays such an important role that it almost becomes ia character unto itself, perfectly matching the feel of the film.
“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” is cute, no doubt. Cera and Dennings have an awkwardly comfortable and honest chemistry that reflects how normal teenagers would respond to the film’s outrageous situations.Their characters don’t fall in love at first sight. Nick is still getting over Tris, and Norah is dealing with an ex-with-benefits (Jay Baruchel) that she can’t quite get rid of. In fact, the two of them don’t get along most of the night; Norah is angry and jealous that Nick can’t seem to direct his focus away from Tris when it so clear that it is Norah that he should be with, and Nick is annoyed that Norah keeps making irritated comments about how bad Tris was for him.
Comedic relief comes in the form of Nick’s gay bandmates (who know a lot more about how to handle a heterosexual relationship than either Nick or Nora) and Norah’s quickly and extremely intoxicated best friend Caroline (Graynor) who they chase around New York City for the large portion of the film.
Cera is not as funny here as he was in previous ones like “Superbad” and “Juno,” which is a bit disappointing. He still manages to channel the awkward, nerd charm that has put him at the tops of teen heartthrob lists nationwide, but his performance felt a bit lacking.
Similarly, Jay Baruchel let his brief role fall flat as he was only a huge jerk. Baruchel, who did great in the recent comedy hit “Tropic Thunder,” could have created more of an interesting and funny character instead of cashing in on the stereotypical romantic comedy “bad guy.”
“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” is nowhere near being this year’s “Juno,” but it offers a cute and healthy alternative to a generation that thrives off the delicious smut of “Gossip Girl” and the teenage pop that is Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.
The biggest problem with “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” is that it stays well within the bounds of a normal teen rom-com. It doesn’t go above and beyond, nor does it fail in creating a cutesy teen movie. The movie has the potential to be really great, even original, but settled with just being all right.