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Film / Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

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Caroline's just a wee bit tipsy.
This night is winding down but time means nothing
As always at this hour time means nothing
One final, final round 'cause time means nothing
Say that you'll stay, say that you'll stay, say that you'll stay.
After Hours, We Are Scientists

A 2008 coming-of-age film starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings as the titular characters. Nick is the sole straight member of a Queercore band, The Jerk Offs. His girlfriend Tris recently dumped him (after cheating on him for much of their relationship their entire relationship), but he's still obsessed with her. Norah is the daughter of a record producer, an intellectual free spirit with a love of indie music. When the two meet by chance at a local New York club, Norah feels a connection. too busy missing Tris to notice.

Nick and Norah spend most of the night together, alone and with friends, in search of a secret concert by a legendary indie band. What happens along the way could change the lives and perspectives of them both, forever.

The movie is remarkable for a quirky soundtrack comprised mostly of indie rock and several interesting side characters. In addition to Nick and Norah, we meet the other members of The Jerk Offs (Thom and Dev), Nick's ex Tris, Norah's best friend Caroline, and Beefy Guy.

Think of it as American Graffiti for the newest generation, with a very different set of music and indisputably much, much worse cars. Or a late-teenage version of Before Sunrise.

Based off a book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, which is also the subject of the Unshelved Book Club here.

The movie provides examples of:

  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: A clue about the location of the secret Where’s Fluffy? show is scrawled onto a toilet stall door.
  • Betty and Veronica: Two constellations that play with the trope - the new love interest is the kinder, down-to-earth one. We have Nick as Archie with Tris as Veronica and Norah as Betty, and Norah as Archie with Nick as Betty and Tal as Veronica. Guess how this one ends.
  • Big Applesauce: While beginning in New Jersey, the film’s setting switches to downtown Manhattan as the night’s adventures begin.
  • Book Ends: the gum (which Caroline got from Randy while they were making out) ends up on the back of Randy's neck after Nick spits it out while confronting Tal
  • Boyfriend Bluff: Norah asks Nick to be her "five-minute boyfriend".
  • Brainy Brunette: Norah, who was accepted to Brown.
  • The Cameo: Seth Meyers as a drunk guy who mistakes the Yugo for a taxi, John Cho who announces the fake Where's Fluffy show, and Andy Samberg as a homeless man.
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: Caroline. But she had been drinking since about 4:30 in the afternoon.
  • Captain Obvious: Yes, Caroline, you did fall. Yes, Caroline, you are being carried. Yes, Caroline, that is a turkey sandwich.
  • Coming of Age Story: The premise of the film.
  • Concert Climax: The secret show of Where's Fluffy, which is also a MacGuffin Location
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: The Port Authority bus terminal toilet.
  • Drag Queen: Christmas themed, at that.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Norah, in spades. Nick isn't lacking in this department either and to an extent, just about every major character has their own moment of snappy snark.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Norah does have a fondness for her bad jokes.
    Norah: Hey. What's that banging?
    Nick: Is it my car--?
    Norah: I think it's..uhhh drums! Get it? Rhythm? Rhythmic drumming on drums? Because when you're in a band you need drums, and you're in band and you don't have drums.
    Nick: Oh. Thanks. I haven't heard that before.
    Norah: (quietly mutters) I didn't mean your band wasn't good. I just meant you needed a drummer... (Beat) You can drop me off up here if you want.
  • Dropped in the Toilet: A very drunk Caroline ends up throwing up in a toilet in the Port Authority bathroom. She gets her phone out of her purse to call Norah, but drops it in the toilet, and then lets her gum fall out of her mouth into the toilet as well. Visibly disgusted, she fishes out the cell phone and calls Norah, and then fishes out the gum...and puts it back in her mouth.
  • Drunken Master: Caroline works out the location of the band before anyone else, despite (or perhaps because of) being really drunk.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Just like the book, the film roughly takes place over 24 hours, the vast majority of events occur during the long winded night.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Norah pulls this on Nick after she asks him to be her "five-minute boyfriend".
  • Follow That Car: "Follow that van!"
  • Gave Up Too Soon: At the bus terminal, looking for Caroline.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Norah calls Thom, Dev, and Lothario a "fistful of assholes" while they're arguing about a new name for their band—both of the band members like the name. The movie is unclear on whether or not they kept their regular name or changed it to "Fistful of Assholes".
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Tris only wants Nick after she sees he has moved on with Norah. it's too little too late for her.
  • Gross Gum Gag: A drunk Caroline keeps chewing the same piece of gum (which she got from Randy's mouth while making out with him) throughout the entire movie. At one point she loses it in a sewer, finds it again, and sticks it back in her mouth. It eventually ends up in Nick's mouth and he spits it onto the back of Randy's neck.
  • Had the Silly Thing in Reverse: Nick lets Norah drive his Yugo, and after showing off her "awesome" driving skills, she parks by the curb. When Nick comments on how far away from the curb she is, she goes to reverse closer to the curb and ends up driving forward into a fire hydrant.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Caroline, leading to her being The Load.
  • Hipster: Nearly everyone.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Or at least for Norah.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Both Tal (and to lesser extent - Tris) manage to keep Norah and Nick (respectively) around for years by manipulating them and pushing on their buttons. it stops working around half-way through the movie.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Tal. Tris is hinted to be one too.
  • Moment Killer: A particularly brutal Fatal Fumble occurs when Nick and Norah share a sweet smile along to Nick's mix playing in the background. For a second it looks like they're actually going to get along....and then the mix ends with Nick's prerecorded self proclaiming, "There it is, Tris! 10 songs from my broken heart!". Yeouch.
  • One Crazy Night: The movie involves the titular protagonists having a Meet Cute and then trying to find a concert by an obscure indie band called "Where's Fluffy?". It turns into an epic all-night quest in which they fall in love.
  • The Reveal: Turns out, Beefy Guy's real name is Lothario. Norah, visibly amused, thinks it's pretty nice.
  • Right Through His Pants: Both of theirs, in fact. Some reviews stated that the largely clothed protagonists indicated it was a portrayal of mutual masturbation, which is in fact, a more realistic portrayal of what a couple of fooling-around teenagers might be doing rather than full-on intercourse.
  • Running Gag: See if you can follow every mouth That Gum goes into.
  • Scenery Porn: There are many lingering shots of the New York streets and skyline.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: We don't actually see whatever Nick and Norah get up to in the recording studio (which lead to some speculation about what exactly happened, see Right Through His Pants above), the camera pans away to the guitars and recording equipment as they start making out, so we just hear some whispered dialogue and then Norah orgasming.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Norah is a mild case, ditching the sports bra and gaining a jacket.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Nick and Norah are named in reference to Nick and Nora Charles, the main characters of The Thin Man. Going further, both Noras are the children of wealthy families, whereas both Nicks are from much less affluent backgrounds.
    • One of the band names that Dev, Thom, and Beefy Guy think of is Shit Sandwich.
  • Straight Gay: Lothario/Beefy Guy.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Tris is far less nasty in the book (which isn't to say she isn't a bitch there either). She teaches Norah how to kiss properly and the reason why she broke up with Nick in the first place was because he was far too much of a Nice Guy to be wasted on her.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Not only do we see Caroline throw up in the Port Authority toilet, there's also a close-up of the toilet bowl as she fishes her phone and gum out of it.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Where they finally find Caroline .
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: Played straight when the very drunk Caroline gets handed off to the gay band mates for her own safety only to be Subverted when they leave the van unlocked and let her wander off.