'Infinite Playlist' Strikes Just the Right Note

Review: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings are charming in film about teen love, antics.

Oct. 3, 2008 — -- Those of a particular generation consider After Hours the defining New York-based late-night saga. Now the Millennial generation has its own witty sleepless night in the Big Apple: "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist." And, while lighter, it's a surprisingly worthy successor to Martin Scorsese's surrealistic 1985 film.

Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) are about as perfect for each other as two 18-year-olds can be, and they realize it along with the audience during the course of one music-fueled night in New York City. Not only do they have the same taste in bands, they're evenly matched on the intelligence and wit scale.

Dennings is the revelation here, having played supporting parts in "The House Bunny" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." She is smart, likable and funny and may be ready to assume the mantle from "Juno's" Ellen Page as the coolest young female star.

Cera is more recognizable to audiences after his major roles in last year's "Superbad" and "Juno." He plays a similarly sensitive and adorable teen here, but familiarity only breeds contentment.

The sharp-witted Norah is not sure about much, but she is certain about her love for music. Nick is a lovelorn guy whose shallow former girlfriend, Tris (Alexis Dziena), has toyed with his affections. He valiantly continues to make her a succession of mix CDs, which she casually tosses out.

Unbeknownst to Nick or Tris, Norah has found the discs, enjoyed the musical selections and created a fantasy about the guy who compiled them. Nick wouldn't necessarily fit the bill. He's a little gawky and plays a lackluster bass in an indie rock band.

He also is obsessed with a local cult band having a secret show in the city. Nora shares the obsession but spends much of her time bailing out her best buddy, Caroline (a fearlessly funny Ari Graynor). Norah and Caroline are thrown together with Nick and his trio of bandmates on an odyssey through late-night New York.

Though each plays an endearing character, there also is considerable chemistry between Cera and Dennings. Though the movie rambles in the middle, it gets back on track when Nick and Norah have a sweet encounter in an unexpected place. The soundtrack is an excellent counterpoint to the film's quirky scenarios.

Not only is their playlist worth a listen, but Nick and Norah are surprisingly good company with whom to spend a long night in the city.