Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Albert W. Vogt III

Last night I intended to get back to the list, but circumstances (not going to get into details) prevented me from doing so. So much of life is about dealing with unexpected events. With some gradations, there are really only two ways of doing so: taking them in stride or wallowing. Of course, by “unexpected” I am referring to difficulties. I have always marveled at those who are able to take things that happen to them, especially bad things, in much the same way they do anything else. I tend to opt for the latter of those tracks, even though as a spiritual director I am encouraging people to do the former. Oddly enough, these thoughts apply to the film that I am going to review today in lieu of my original choice. I will get to that one, probably this weekend. But at this time you are getting Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008).

One half of the title couple in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Nick (Michael Cera), is moping at home, making compact disc (CD) mixes for his ex-girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena). While he is doing this, he is also leaving a message on her phone that is equal parts devastation over their break-up (which apparently happened on his “b-day”) and encouragement for having fun over the weekend (which you get the sense is actually for him). After accidentally deleting the long digital missive, he hears the over-the-top car horn of his bandmates pulling up in their van to transport him to a gig in New York City. Initially Nick declines going, citing the need for a “mental health day” because of his sadness, but the revelation of his favorite band Where’s Fluffy playing somewhere that night in the city convinces him to go. Nearby, at what seems to be an all girls Catholic high school, the other half of the title couple, Norah (Kat Dennings), comes out of class listening to one of Nick’s mixes. Though they have never met, she ends up retrieving the discarded CDs from Tris, who is one of her classmates and nemesis. When Norah’s best friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) meets Norah at her locker, Caroline lets on that she also knows about Where’s Fluffy’s show. They are also Norah’s favorite band. Thus, Norah and Caroline plan to head into town in order hear Where’s Fluffy. However, this endeavor is not as simple as showing up at the proper venue. As their name might imply, finding the location of Where’s Fluffy’s concerts basically involves a scavenger hunt. As fate would have it, the first place where they think Where’s Fluffy is playing also happens to be where Nick and his band perform. When Tris also shows up with a different guy, and because of her rivalry with Norah, Norah decides to make out with Nick before she learns that he is the source of the music she listened to at school. Meanwhile, Caroline is getting drunk with random people and acting in a wild manner. Yet, Nick’s bandmates feel like Norah is what Nick needs to get over Tris. In order to keep the spark going, Thom (Aaron Yoo) and Dev (Rafi Gavron), along with their mysterious friend Lethario (Jonathan B. Wright), Nick’s band in other words, offer to take Tris home. This leaves Nick to escort Norah. Along the way, they begin to bond over their love for Where’s Fluffy. Unfortunately, this also leads to Nick talking about Tris, which almost derails their interaction before it begins. What keeps them going is the fact that Nick’s band loses Caroline. Thus they all get back together in order to track her down. Seeing Nick and Norah get closer makes Tris want to try to win back Nick. However, when Nick finally confronts Tris, it makes him realize Norah is really the one for him. Hence, they meet back up, Norah gives him a tour of the famous Electric Lady Studios that her father owns (a dream for any Jimi Hendrix fan), and eventually they find Where’s Fluffy.

There is an interesting line at the end of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist where Norah asks Nick if he is sad that they missed actually hearing Where’s Fluffy. As it turns out, with all the drama of their various friends who also find their way to the concert, they decide to leave it before it starts to go off together. Nick replies, “We didn’t miss it. This is it.” Love is such a complicated thing, and yet so simple at the same time. I believe this is why we Christians equate God to love because only He can truly embody a concept like love. Nick went through a lot with Tris, and then had various adventures around the city with Norah trying to find Where’s Fluffy and Caroline. Love causes us to do things we would not normally do in order to demonstrate our affection for another. John 3:16 basically says it all, for God so loved the world (meaning all of us) that He gave us His Son, Jesus. And what greater gift is there not only to send His Son, but allow Him to die so that our sins can be forgiven and we might draw closer to Him in Heaven? Of course, that is on a global scale, and yet the love that God has for us is intensely individual. At the end of the day, it is about two people just being with each other, Nick and Norah, God and yourself. It is the relationship that God wants with us. That is it.

Talking about Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist in this manner allows me to combine the romantic in me with my Faith. Still, there is a lot in the film that conflicts with the latter of those two sides of my personality, and the more I grow in Faith the more important it is to me. For example, Nick’s bandmates are both gay, which would be okay and I have documented elsewhere how it is not the place of any Christian to condemn, but a running joke is them coming up with lewd band names that play up that aspect of their character. There are other parts of the film that also celebrate that culture that I could do without, but I put up with them because I like Nick and Norah. However, it is also made clear that Norah and Caroline are high school students who apparently are able to go out and stay out however long they like. Parents? We know that Norah has a father, but we never meet him. Anyway, take these parts with the good because overall it is a pretty entertaining date night movie.


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