Set over the course of one night, 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' is that time-old parable of boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-with-girl. While more than a little light on substance, the film can at least be commended for raising some of the issues that face teenagers and not instantly ducking for cover.
Nick (Cera) is a heartbroken bass player who sits at home making mix CDs after being dumped some weeks previously by his superficial girlfriend Tris (Dziena). These CDs are discarded by Tris but picked up by her 'best friend', Norah (Dennings). She has been collecting Nick's feats of musical acumen for a while, and although she has never met him, she harbours serious feelings for her mystery DJ.
After playing a gig that night with his band, The Jerk-offs, Nick is unintentionally asked by Norah to pretend to be her boyfriend for five minutes - to prove to Tris that she is going out with someone.
At this point, one would wonder how Tris and Norah got through the last six months of being 'best friends' without Tris ever introducing Nick to her but, with the film firmly camped in teen rom-com land, it's best to leave most questions alone.
At the gig, a different friend of Norah's, Caroline (Graynor), gets hopelessly drunk and ends up missing in downtown New York. Thus Nick, Norah and the rest of his flamingly-gay bandmates spend the night looking for her and, when it suits them, a band called Where's Fluffy?, due to play a mystery gig that night as well. Cue the predictable arguments, bonding, run-ins with significant others, etc etc until Nick and Norah realise that they are in fact everything they'd been looking for and want to spend the rest of their lives together.
For a film so lacking in substance to work at all is down in no small part to Michael Cera. Probably best known to audiences for his role as Paulie in last year's Oscar-winning 'Juno', Cera more-or-less reprises the character here, and his comedic timing and obvious acting skills mange to carry what would otherwise be a dull affair.
The problem with 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' is the weakness of the script and setting. Taking place within such a small space of time, 'One Great Night' movies should move quickly, unexpectedly and ultimately should feel how a really great night can feel. Think 'Dazed and Confused', and how it was possible for an audience to be completely dragged into that film without even knowing it, until the sun came up and the credits rolled. 'Nick and Norah's…', unfortunately, has none of that authenticity.
The film can, though, be admired for not side-stepping some of the more risqué teenage issues of today. Casual sex is dealt with solely from an adolescent's point-of-view; as is alcohol and homosexuality. Obvious comparisons will be drawn with 'Juno', but while 'Juno' was independent, and could be as bold and thought-provoking as it so wished, 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' is aimed firmly at the mainstream, and probably goes about as far as it can.
While it definitely doesn't reinvent the wheel, the film boasts a pretty decent soundtrack, credible lead performances and the odd laugh. Just don't buy a ticket expecting to see a whole lot more.