A sort-of review, made up of appropriately circular ramblings

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is not a bad movie. But, of course, here’s the thing: if you are going to call your lead romantic characters Nick and Norah, you are setting yourself up with some pretty big martini glasses to fill. Because anyone with an affection for Golden Age Hollywood cinema (which should be everyone) will associate the names with Nick and Nora (sans h) Charles, the private detectives who were more interested in drinking and making wry quips than catching criminals in the insanely entertaining and successful series known as The Thin Man movies. This is a connection that pretty much everyone who reviews the movie is going to make. In fact, stop reading my lame thoughts and just go read Roger Ebert’s instead, which is really what you should always do anyway.

What he said.

Okay, I’m not saying that Michael Cera (who I adore) should be able to match up to William Powell’s mustache, or that Kat Dennings (who I hope can find great parts in the future) should slink along with the confidence of Myrna Loy. But one does hope that if you’re going to reference such an iconic screen couple, you’d also succeed in emulating a bit of their ease, charm and wit. Though the movie is reasonably entertaining, and its stars are likeable, and it has a certain number of funny moments, it’s missing an element of originality or outrageousness that would make it something really worth talking about. No one would ever need to explain any of the plot for someone who hasn’t seen it to know what sort of movie they’re in for, only the way the plot is presented, i.e. “the characters are teens and it all takes place over the course of one night.” Now you more or less know exactly what’s coming, because we’ve all seen those sorts of movies before.

The New York Times review of this film references another film, Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, saying this movie is like that one “filtered through the high school sensibility of John Hughes.” I sort of take that as an insult to John Hughes, as this is no Sixteen Candles we’re talking about here, but I still appreciate the reference, since, coincidentally, I just saw After Hours for the first time last night. I watched it because Ebert raves about it in his new book about Scorsese that I’ve been reading this week. See how everything comes together(ish)? If you’re a fan of the it-all-happened-in-one-night kinds of movies, rent this bizarre dark comedy. It’s one of those delights where every ten minutes another actor you like pops up: Catherine O’Hara, Teri Garr, John Heard, Linda Fiorentino, Cheech & Chong….yes, people, Cheech & Chong in a Scorsese movie. It’s crazy time. Try it.

And then watch The Thin Man if you never have.

And, eventually, rent Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist should you feel like it. Just keep your expectations at fluff-level.


1 Response to “A sort-of review, made up of appropriately circular ramblings”

  1. 1 Formica Dinette November 17, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    I just want to make a comment for fun. Hi!

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Other projects:

Downton Gabby: podcasting about Downton Abbey from a funny, foul-mouthed, feminist perspective

Quick Lit: reading one short story a day in 2015

Grand Dames: collecting sundry achievements of admirable women

The MacGuffin: archive of my days as a film critic

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