Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, 3.5/5

Rated PG-13. Click here to view the trailer.

The opening lines of Ecclesiastes have Solomon lamenting “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” Vanity here means “in vain” and not narcissism. The original Hebrew is more properly translated at wisp of smoke or a puff of breath. All the temporal things man clings to on this planet are futile, pure vanity.

This movie is pure vanity. Call it Garden State Lite. It’s nothing too special, but Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, the two titular characters, as well as one very funny drunk elevate it to far more than the sum of its parts or the swiss cheese of its plot holes

Nick is a bass player for a band that can’t settle on a name, but most of his time is spent composing mix CDs (the sixth Love Language) for his cheating ex, Tris (Alexis Dziena). Tris immediately tosses each mix, which is then pick up and devoured by Norah. Norah’s best friend, Caroline (Ari Graynor), gets drunk. (That’s pretty much her only contribution, but she does it very well.)

N&N meet cute in a club (since when are high school seniors allowed to frequent NYC night clubs?) and spend the night alternately chasing a mythical indie rock band named Where’s Fluffy? and the drunkenly lost, gum-smacking Caroline. (I love Queen but I’m not sure I’d chase even them around the Five Boroughs until the sun rises.)

As I mentioned, Cera and Dennings are the highlights. Cera continues in his trademark nerdy, uncomfortable, sensitive guy with an incredibly cute girlfriend that began on Arrested Development and continued through Superbad, Juno and now N&N. One wonders if he fears being typecast, but these are the roles he was born to play. Plus he gets to drive a Yugo. I was initially unimpessed by Dennings, but her smile big eyes and awkward jokes won me over.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is nothing but cotton candy. It’s a cinematic vanity of vanities with a great sound track. But hey, if it’s going to be fluff, at least it tastes good.

(Forgive the forced biblical allusion. I just took my first Old Testament history exam and have Ecclesiastes on the brain. That sounds like a disease.)


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