Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist – the DVD Adaptation

This week I'm slogging through the Magician King, by Lew Grossman, the sequel to the Magicians, while also getting ready for school to start on Tuesday. I needed a break from the book, and Cullen needed a break from me hollering at the protagonist, so we took a break and watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings. We were a little concerned because, let’s face it, Michael Cera may be adorable but he tends to play juiceboxes. Could we tolerate another jerk when I was taking a break from reading about a jerk? It was a terrible risk but I'm brave so I chanced it.

As the film begins Nick (Michael Cera) is making the millionth mix cd in a series of a bazillion, which he is going to give to the girl who dumped him and broke his heart. There are two things we notice on his bedroom walls; scores of photos of a beautiful girl and some stuff about his favorite band Where's Fluffy. Nick's playlists aren't getting him very far. Tris (Alexis Dziena), his ex, tosses them into the garbage, where they’re promptly retrieved by Norah (Kat Dennings), who has developed a crush on him based on his music choices. If a song speaks to us then we must have something in common with other people it speaks to, right?

Nick plays bass in a queercore band called the Jerk Offs. He's got a gig that night but he's feeling so blue he doesn’t want to go, until his bandmates convince him to come play and then they'll go and look for the secret location of a ninja performance of Where's Fluffy. Meanwhile Norah, her friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) and Caroline's friend, the awful Tris, go to the club to see the Jerk Offs play. Tris is there with her new boyfriend and is pretty obviously there to try and make Nick even more depressed, which works really well. He's so, so hung up on her.

Tris isn't just mean to Nick, she's also obnoxious to Norah, taunting for her for not having a boyfriend. Norah responds that she does have a boyfriend and walks up to Nick, who is now offstage, asking him to be her boyfriend for five minutes. Then she kisses him, totally confusing Tris, who can't figure out how they could know each other without her knowing about it. And so begins a night of confusion, drinking, bickering and looking for Where's Fluffy and love.

Caroline gets incredibly drunk, so drunk that Norah tries to take her home, only to be shanghaied by Nick's bandmates, who loathe Tris and would love to see Nick with a new love interest. They say they'll take Caroline home, but unfortunately she rouses from her drunken stupor at exactly the wrong time, thinks they are up to no good and makes her escape. Now Norah isn't just looking for Where's Fluffy; she's also looking Caroline.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is about love and music, but it's also about the elasticity of time. How sometimes one special night can stretch out for such an enchanted time that you can change into a brand new version of yourself. Anything is possible and it seems like anything is likely. This movie is a lot of fun, but be warned, there are some disgusting scenes, including one that involves the drunken Caroline that made me gag. Be prepared to cover your eyes, or be ready to check in for a mind wipe.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is from Vera Brosgol, an artist whose work I adore, who has written a heartbreaking story called What were you raised by Wolves? A little boy is camping with his family when he meets a feral girl who tries to help him. They squabble and he meets a pretty nasty fate, at which point she ends up being adopted and civilized by the grieving family. But can she accept everything wrong she sees with our often cruel society? This shortish comic is poignant and lovely.