Okay, I’ll admit this right off the bat: I was ready to be disappointed by Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Despite my affection for Michael Cera as a comedic actor (due to being introduced by my brother to Arrested Development), it automatically starts out with a heavy handicap given that it’s a movie made of a book I have adored since it first came out and introduced me to the brilliant David Levithan, who co-authored with fellow YA author Rachel Cohn.
In the spirit of the film classic American Graffiti, Infinite Playlist tells the story of a group of teenagers poised on the thresh-hold of adulthood as they spend an endless night trailing around New York City in search of an elusive performance by the mysterious band Where’s Fluffy? Nick (Michael Cera) is the one straight guy in a queer-boy band, not yet over his traumatic break-up with manipulative queen bee Tris; Norah (Kat Dennings) is competent and quiet, used to spending her time at concerts watching out for her reckless friend Caroline and ignoring rumors she’s a frigid bitch.
Despite these obviously gender-specific social quandaries, the thing that really struck me while I was watching the movie is that the people involved (writers, directors, actors) have managed to tell a love story that’s not boy-meets-girl but person-meets-person. It’s a story that resists casting Nick and Norah into any stereotypical “teenage boy” and “teenage girl” roles — or at least making the story revolve around their performance in those roles.
On the downside, I missed the richess of the inner dialog inherent in first-person fictional narration (the novel is told in alternating chapters by Nick and Norah), and the more explicit sexuality that’s possible in fiction that can’t be translated onto movie marketed to a teen audience (thanks movie ratings board). While there’s a really sweet make-out scene — the details of which I will not spoiler ahead of time — I couldn’t help but notice that both the Tris-and-Norah snogging and the almost-oral sex scene didn’t make the cut in the film version. I iz suzpishus.
In the end though, I think they may have made up for it by writing solid new material and (more importantly) giving Salvatore his due; I would have been very, very sad if Salvatore had been entirely absent.