Hello kids. Hans here. I know that all of you out there have watched a movie and had that feeling in your heart of hearts that what you just watched fell somewhere in between the extremes of “not that good” and “so bad you wanted to cut one of your fingers off with a machete to make it stop.” Well, I try to watch as many good movies that I know I will probably like as I can, but every now and again, you need to watch something that intellectually makes you scream but emotionally makes you laugh a little, cry a little, and….whatever the end of that song is. So I’ll be sharing a couple with you a week. Here’s the first go round.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Okay, admittedly, this movie isn’t very good. I remember seeing the trailer for it in front of Pineapple Express and saying “hey, it’s a movie that has a lot of indie rock, Michael Cera as a fragile emo kid and Kat Dennings as a charming, loveable emo girl in a top that shows off her endowments quite nicely, what could go wrong?” The answer, dear readers, is lotsashit.
Bad script, bad dialogue, not all that inspired use of music (which is pretty dispiriting when you consider that the marketing campaign of the film was pretty much built around the idea of everyone in the world having an IPOD with at least three indie bands on it), and a waste of two incredibly promising young actors with an endless amount of charm and chemistry with one another. So why did I not just forget this movie as soon as I walked out of it?
It’s a rough spot to be put in as a film viewer when people you really like make a movie about stuff that you identify with but it winds up being bad. You want to hate on it, but there is something in your heart that tells you to step back and stop being an ass. And after reflecting on Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist a little more after watching it for a second time this week, I gotta admit, I didn’t laugh that much more, but I did smile a lot.
It’s a movie that just recognizes, for better or for worse, how fucking good it is to be young. Nick and Norah are high school kids but, let’s face it, as the attitudes of certain generations run more and more together and emotionally underdeveloped guys like me still find things in movies like this that they can identify with, they’ll probably act the same way well into their twenties. This movie follows a long tradition of high school flicks about long rollicking-fun nights where people break up, hook up, and listen to cool music in the process (I’m lookin at you Dazed and Confused, Can’t Hardly Wait, and American Graffitti). When I think about how those movies made me feel, it’s easy to understand why it’s hard to shake Nick and Norah.
In this movie, Michael Cera is basically every guy who has ever listened to Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah and wanted to weep. I get the feeling he will probably be that guy for most of his career, but I’m happy to see that he is willing to sport the label of wet-noodle hearthrob, the slightly better looking proxy of every emotionally sensitive guy who wanted to hold a boombox over his head and serenade a chick, for a while longer after Juno.
And Kat Dennings. Oh, Kat Dennings. We need a Winona Ryder for this moment in cinema, and I think she may be it. The playfulness. The banter. The bravado. It’s all so polished but still hints a well of wounded vulnerability just below the surface. She’s gorgeous, funny, and she seems to understand what makes her appealing. These kids will hopefully be around for a while.
Sometimes you just want to see a movie where a sweet piano ballad plays on the soundtrack and two people get together. This movie has that, and you wish the entire thing could have felt like that moment. Even though it didn’t, it’s hard to ignore how happy it makes you feel to see something like that. Even though this movie was a missed opportunity, fuck it, you enjoy it the more that you think about it. Give it a try if you need something to occupy a couple of hours on a Saturday night.