Friday, October 3, 2008

Infinite Jest [Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist]

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist [PG-13]
Grade: F
Cast: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Alexis Dziena, Aaron Yoo, Ari Graynor
Director: Peter Sollett

For a film stealing the names of cinema’s most famous husband-and-wife detectives, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist produces only one mystery.

How is it that the cast members of a great cinematic accomplishment like The Dark Knight suffer a destructive curse, while the makers of this crap get away scot free? Does fate not have a sense of justice? Obviously it has a sense of humor, which is more than this film can say.

Implying an ode and ending up as sacrilege, this film’s title alludes to the classic Thin Man comedies of the 1930s. Yes, Nick and Nora Charles counted their drinks by the flask. But it’s hard to imagine Myrna Loy sticking her hand into a vomit-filled subway station toilet to fish out a cell phone. Much less doing so as an act of “comedy.”

But who needs wit and dash when you can have the puerile horndog comedy of Playlist, brought to you by the producers of American Pie. If this is an attempt at a more “mature” version of those films, then it means only that they have transported immature gross-out behavior to older people.

The thin man of this cinematic crime is Michael Cera, a nerdy college age musician recently dumped by his manipulative cutie-pie ex (Alexis Dziena) and now gently pursuing her enemy, the soulful Norah (Kat Dennings, who puts the mono in monotone).Thrown together less by fate than car trouble, they spend the night together trying to solve their own mystery – finding the New York club where their favorite band is playing a secret show. All comparisons to Before Sunrise should self-destruct upon contact.

The film is directed by Peter Sollett, who debuted with the much-respected indie Raising Victor Vargas. What he’s going for here, beyond a paycheck, I don’t see. Some reviews have already described the film as sweetly compelling. I don’t see that, either. Perhaps that’s because I covered my eyes for a good share of the screening.

The music is cool, though. Perhaps open ears and closed eyes is the perfect way to watch.

2 comments:

Craig Kennedy said...

We agree on a lot of things Mr. Bowen, but it appears we're on completely different pages when it comes to comedy.

I suppose I had a leg up going in because Thin Man never crossed my mind even though the title practically begs comparison.

Cera and Dennings elevated this one for me. They rise above the toilet phone shenanigans and they made me laugh.

nick plowman said...

Ha, I just reviewed this and gave it an “A,” its funny how people can be so divided on something like a movie. But its cool.