Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

The Plastic Podcast

An audio program about movies. Listen with your iPod or computer.

Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

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Daily Plastic is a Chicago-based movie blog, a collaboration between Robert Davis and J. Robert Parks, the same pair who brought you the wearable movie tote, the razor-thin pencil pocket, and that joke about aardvarks. If you know the whereabouts of the blue Pontiac Tempest that was towed from the Plastic Parking Lot on the evening of August 7th, 2008, or more importantly if you've recovered the red shoebox that was in its trunk, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Davis was the chief film critic for the late, great Paste Magazine (which lives on now as a website) from 2005 through 2009, and he counts this interview with Claire Denis among his favorite moments. Every once in a while he pops up on Twitter. He's presently sipping puerh in Chicago, even at this hour. Meanwhile, Parks, whose work has appeared in TimeOut Chicago, The Hyde Park Herald, and Paste, is molding unsuspecting, college-aged minds in the aforementioned windy city. Media types are warned to stay clear of his semester-sized field of influence because of the distorting effects that are likely to develop.

The © copyright of all content on Daily Plastic belongs to the respective authors.

Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist opens up on what appears to be the same street where Juno was filmed. This is no accident. Like Juno, it also stars Michael Cera as a sensitive young man somewhat befuddled by women who throws himself into his hobby as a way to deal with the outside world. Here, that hobby is playing and listening to music. And like Juno, the leading lady is a sharp-talking brunette who might be a little too aggressive for him but still has a heart of gold.

The comparisons aren’t terribly flattering for Nick & Norah, which doesn’t have the thematic depth or scintillating dialogue of its predecessor. But it does have Cera, who continues to play a variation of his wonderful Arrested Development character (no complaints from me), and Kat Dennings as Nora, who’s endearing and compelling. In fact, the scenes with just the title characters are pretty wonderful, as they slowly come to realize they like each other, despite some holdover feelings for old exes.

The problem is the movie keeps tearing us away from our protagonists and focusing on those exes or other friends, who can’t match Nick and Norah in the personality department. This is a bit unusual, as most romantic comedies feature sidekicks that are at least as interesting and quirky as the leads. Not so here, and so the inevitable scenes designed to keep our lovers apart quickly grow irritating.

I was also a bit surprised that director Peter Sollett, who made the wonderful Raising Victor Vargas, doesn’t capture the vibrancy and specificity of Manhattan nightlife. This feels like it could’ve been made in any city. And am I the only one who was consistently surprised at how the characters kept driving around New York and, even more amazingly, kept finding parking spaces? At least the wall-to-wall music is good, befitting a movie that’s about how people find each other in a song. If it had focused just on that, we might have been talking about moving beyond Juno, instead of falling short.

5 Responses to “Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

  1. movie fan says:

    there were some awkward moments in this movie that were hard to get past... such as every time that gum was passed around (yuck!)

  2. Wow ... I don't like this film more than you do (I like it less, probably), but I had almost the opposite reaction. I don't think Cera works at all as a lead actor -- he's about as acharismatic as you can get. And Dennings is only good by comparison.

    As for New York, it dawned on me while I was watching FIREPROOF right after that part of the reason I did not connect with NICK AND NORAH is that it was so specifically set in a world with which I simply could not connect -- gallivanting around New York club-hopping until dawn, leaving cars and drunk friends around, sex the first day you meet. Whatever my uneasy relationship to small-town Southern Protestant culture, it's at least a world I can mentally and emotionally navigate my way around. (And the reverse for most blue-state secular film critics.)

  3. Victor, did you like Cera in Arrested Development? I know that part of my joy in watching him is how all his roles hearken back to that one.

    I haven't seen Fireproof, but I have a fondness for idealized Southern small towns as settings. Hence my irrational love for Doc Hollywood.

  4. I have never seen Arrested Development.

  5. Robert DAVIS says:

    I've been an urbanite for the last thirteen years or so, and although I've never lived in Manhattan it didn't strike me as particularly realistic that you could drive around the Big Apple looking for a certain Yugo parked on the street. And find it. In fact that feels more like something that would happen in a small town or something you'd see in, say, American Graffiti. I think there's plenty of fantasy logic in this movie that also isn't recognizable to blue state secular film critics except maybe in the memories of their high school daydreams.

    I found the few and infrequent pockets when Cera and Dennings are alone together to be the film's modest high points. "I assure you, this is not a cab, my friend," made me chuckle because the easy delivery made it seem like this happens often to our yellow Yugo driver. Other than that, I can't remember much of anything about the film. (I talked with Cera in Toronto as a last minute favor to the magazine and found him to be charming and humble. The short Q&A culled from our chat is on newsstands now, but I wouldn't necessarily go out of your way for it.)

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