Teens on the Rebound Roam Manhattan in Romantic Road Flick
How long will Michael Cera be able to continue playing the vulnerable, overly-sensitive social zero we saw in both Juno and Superbad? Probably until his wan baby face matures to the point it finally begins to lose its angelic air of innocence. Meanwhile, he remains the ideal foil to portray the nerdy nice guy opposite a relatively-savvy female lead, a role he reprises to perfection in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.
Unfolding mostly in New York over the course of one very eventful evening, this tenderhearted teensploit based on Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s novel of the same name asks one simple question: Can love blossom between a couple of club kids from Jersey on the rebound while they’re careening around town in a yellow Yugo which is repeatedly mistaken for a taxicab?
At the point of departure, we meet Nick (Cera), a high school senior planning to attend Berklee School of Music. He is currently the bassist for an otherwise all-gay punk rock group currently called The Jerk Offs. He’s also been dejected ever since being dumped on his birthday a month ago by his narcissistic girlfriend, Tris (Alexis Dziena), a two-timer who finally left him for macho-type Gary (Zachary Booth).
Seemingly inconsolable, Nick spends most of his free time daydreaming about getting back together, leaving long messages on her cell phone, and making her CD mixes of songs she just tosses into the trash. Hoping to shake him out of the doldrums, his band mates book a gig in a dive in lower Manhattan.
Tris is in the audience that evening and teases her gal pal Norah (Kat Dennings) about being alone. Weary of her “friends with benefits” relationship with a shallow, emotionally-distant social climber (Jay Baruchel), Norah impulsively announces that she already has a new beau. She then marches up to Nick as he comes offstage, and whispers, “Will you be my boyfriend for five minutes?” in his ear before planting a kiss on his lips.
Dumbfounded, he goes along with ruse, a charade which ends up lasting until four in the morning. For they soon discover that they have something in common, an appreciation of “Where’s Fluffy,” an up-and-coming combo rumored to be playing an impromptu set somewhere in the city that very night. They gradually get to know each other during their ensuing search for the elusive Fluffy, an effort intermittently frustrated by an ever compounding comedy of errors, involving a car crash, a lost friend (Ari Graynor) and lots of bodily-function fare designed to trigger one’s gag reflex.
A meandering Manhattan travelogue with a payoff worth the wait, some gross moments notwithstanding.