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Nick and Nora’s Predictable Playlist

Jess Shaffer | Friday, October 10, 2008

The movie industry has come out with the newest indie, young adult romantic comedy. Following in the steps of “Juno,” “Knocked Up,” and “Garden State,” “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist” follows two star-crossed lovers, who are struggling with their respective angsty heartbreaks. Nick is on the mend after a nasty break up with Tris, a vapid, self centered, quintessential popular girl. Nora is a wallflower used to being neglected from living in the shadow of her famous music producer dad. Nora is no stranger to Tris’s shenanigans. Tris’s favorite extracurricular activity seems to be putting Nick down behind his back, tossing his gifts publicly, and detailing her cheating ways. Nora, always having to play audience to Tris’s self centered monologues, adores Nick’s music tastes from afar.

These two indie caricatures converge in New York City, where Nick is performing with his band and Nora is out for a night on the town. Both Nick and Nora come with their respective entourages. Nick is a member of the gay-punk group, The Jerk Offs. The only heterosexual member of this rock band, Nick is surrounded by a sweet and comical ensemble of gay best friends, who desperately want him to get over Tris.

Nora’s entourage is not quite as supportive. First, Nora is victimized by her constantly catty frenemy, Tris. And then there’s Caroline, Nora’s best friend. Nora constantly plays the role of babysitter to Caroline’s party girl supreme.

This cast of characters have one thing in common: their love of the illusive (fictional) band, Where’s Fluffy? In an epic search for Where’s Fluffy?’s mysterious, surprise, concert, New York becomes these teens’ personal playground. Complete with jealousy, emo heart-to-hearts, betrayal, budding romance, and a runaway drunk, Nick and Nora follow each other on a roller coaster pursuit of Fluffy, self-esteem, and love.

Overall, this pseudo-epic journey of these lovable losers is cute. While it’s enjoyable to watch and its characters are delightfully hate-able (i.e. Tris) or lovable (i.e. Nick and Nora). Nora, while perhaps a tad too bitter, is very relatable. Nick, though maybe slightly pathetic, seems to embody every pitiful teenage break-up. Caroline is the prototypical drunk girl that anyone who’s attended a dorm party can identify effortlessly. Tris is stereotypical, and generally boring in her type cast role. The most original characters are Nick’s band mates, who embody a fun combination of flaky stoners, hip gay guys, and indie-punk musicians. They are perhaps the most delightful to watch, though their scenes are few and far between.

Unfortunately, “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist” overly relies on clichés. It is entirely predictable, though still endearing. By telling a story of clichés, the film loses much of its substance. Though it has huge potential, the film just didn’t seem to be looking for quality. For the most part, characters and plot points that could have been better developed were neglected. Perhaps some of the TLC given to small indie projects was lost in this, a more mainstream version of an indie concept. Unlike “Juno” or “Garden State,” “Infinite Playlist” lacks depth and heart. It’s over processed, mainstream vibe doesn’t help. Perhaps this is why the film’s latent potential just didn’t get fulfilled.

Additionally, the soundtrack was good, though surprisingly deemphasized considering the title of the movie. In fact, music didn’t play a crucial part in setting the mood for the film. It was relatively absent, outside the characters’ shared love of music.Overall, while lovable, “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist” is weak and shallow. Most of the film’s better scenes are featured in the preview. Though cute, the film is underdeveloped and lacking in substance. Go see it for a fun, light, teen movie. But don’t go expecting much.