When I look back at movies that definitely changed my life as a teen, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is at the top of the list.
There are so many things about it that made a huge impact. For starters, it has a great soundtrack, featuring bands and artists that I loved at the time, like Vampire Weekend, Bishop Allen, and Devendra Banhart.
Plus, Kat Dennings was the first fellow curvy girl I saw onscreen and it gave me a glimmer of hope that an adorable nerd like Michael Cera would be into me. (Lucky for teen me, adult me has dated many guys who are the Michael Cera type.)
But now that I'm an adult living in New York City, I wanted to see how much it actually holds up. So, I'm watching Nick & Norah's for the first time in adulthood.
I'm 50 seconds in and as someone who is a music journalist on the side, I'm geeking out over the Merge Records sticker on the turntable. Nick has good taste!
Can we just take a second to discuss Nick's posters? Dinosaur Jr.! Magnetic Fields! Caribou! Arcade Fire! Buzzcocks! I feel 16 again.
Let's take a peek at his mixed CD tracklist. It's blurry but there's The Cure (mentioned later in the movie from what I remember), The National (!!!), Band of Horses (a band I briefly liked in high school), Bishop Allen (a band I definitely liked in high school), Where's Fluffy (the fictional band that kickstarts this whole love story), and Morningwood (the definite wildcard of the bunch).
As someone who was forced to wear a school uniform from preschool to high school, seeing Norah in her uniform is really taking me back.
So, I had completely forgotten about this but Norah fell in love with Nick before meeting him because he made his ex Tris some pretty great mixed CDs. The power of an amazing playlist!
Oh my god, the artwork is incredible! OK, I get it. I would definitely fall in love with someone thanks to their detailed mixed CDs.
So Nick's depressed because his ex-girlfriend, Tris, broke up with him and now he doesn't want to play a show opening for Bishop Allen.
I get that it's annoying that he feels like bailing, but it's not cool to say this to a friend who's depressed:
I can't deal with Nick's response!
I'm sorry, but it feels absolutely wild to me that they're finding out about the Where's Fluffy show through the radio and not through social media. But hey, it's 2008 after all.
Everyone's freaking out over Where's Fluffy's show. But why? I still don't know if they're supposed to be an LCD Soundsystem-level band or just a really cool obscure band that only certain kids are super passionate about.
A venue I recognize! Arlene's Grocery! So these Jersey kids are heading to the city to try to find this band. No parental permission needed. Cool!
I just want to know how they got such realistic fake IDs!
And guess who's playing Arlene's Grocery instead of Where's Fluffy!
Norah is definitely into Michael Cera's whole DIY boy shtick.
Nick's ex, Tris, went all the way to his show just to torture him by letting a new guy kiss her neck. She's really committed to being the absolute worst.
OK, I hate her. How dare you insult a goddess like Kat Dennings?!
This is the basis of most Netflix teen movies so it's ahead of its time.
This is absolutely disgusting but I also need to know every detail of how Ari Graynor filmed this scene.
Ari Graynor, who I refuse to call by just her first name because she is a legend, deserved an Oscar for this excellent drunk performance.
The Bishop Allen cameo is giving me the same vibes as the Rooney episode from The OC. Honestly, not mad at it!
OK, so Nick's friends seem sweet but can we just talk about how Dev is handing a teenage girl a "sexy" bra so she'll impress his friend? Weird! Not cool! I don't care that Nick's friends are gay, this is just plain creepy.
Also, why does he have a whole box of bras? And how do they somehow magically fit her?
Caroline is that one messy friend on a night out and I love it so much.
I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe New Yorkers would give any fucks about a drunk girl unlocking a car.
Well, I guess at least the bra did the trick.
A Seth Meyers cameo!
Yes, that's Seth Meyers tonguing Lorene Scafaria! Fun fact: Lorene wrote the Nick & Norah's script!
So Norah has to choose between going to an Ivy League or having a job (working for her dad's record label, no less). Girl, go to school! Are you kidding me?! The job will be there!
Seeing them head to Bowery Ballroom is really making me miss shows. Remember shows? Remember life pre-pandemic? Fun times.
NOOOOO! Nick's cringey breakup voice recording from the mixed CD started playing. So mortifying.
Norah went to the bathroom at Bowery and found the first Where's Fluffy clue! But wait, is Brooklyn Pool supposed to be Union Pool? They would definitely not be allowed there if they're under 21 – no matter how many industry connections Norah has. They are STRICT!
Union – errr Brooklyn Pool is now on hold because Caroline decided to jump out of Nick's friends' van.
Caroline is my favorite drunk character. Her convincing a random guy (a Kevin Corrigan cameo!) to give her his sandwich and making him hold her gum at Port Authority is iconic.
The phone-gum-vomit in toilet scene is one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen but it's absolutely incredible.
They couldn't find Caroline so they're finally going to Brooklyn!
It still feels extremely bizarre when someone in a movie visits my local haunts. I cannot get over how they're at UNION FREAKIN' POOL. In case you have no idea why this is absolutely hilarious to most New Yorkers, this The Cut piece explains it. Basically, it's the messy hookup spot where you make all your bad decisions after hours. (And drunkenly eat tacos – can't forget the tacos.)
I spot Jay Baruchel! He plays Norah's horrible on-and-off boyfriend, Tal.
Ah yes, if you're going to be kissed by the guy who you're not sure if you're dating or not, Union Pool's the place for it to happen.
I had completely forgotten John Cho is in this movie!
Bad news: Where's Fluffy is not at Union Pool. Good news: this guy is extremely into whatever's going on.
Tris and Norah are having a showdown at a bodega and apparently it's a big deal if you haven't had an orgasm at 17. 17!!! Who even knows what they're doing in the bedroom at that age?
Oh look, it's Devendra Banhart, chiming in on teenagers' conversation about orgasms.
I still can't tell if Devendra's playing himself but the thick Russian accent is a *choice.* (Devendra is half-Venezuelan and definitely not Russian, fwiw.)
Caroline found Jesus. Proud of her!
Apparently Jesus is much taller in person.
An Andy Samberg cameo!
They're now going to a Christmas-themed drag show to get Caroline. It's not even winter!
Of course, Caroline is the Christmas tree.
Nick wiping off Caroline's vomit spittle from Norah's hand with a Handi-Wipe is somehow erotic. What is happening?!
Nick just left Norah to go talk to Tris and give her a ride. Big mistake. HUGE!
I deeply (yet embarrassingly) relate to Norah calling up Tal after Nick ended up leaving her behind to be with his ex.
Alright, it's important to address that Nick is whistling to Modest Mouse's "Little Motel," a very sad breakup song, while his ex is trying to seduce him with her foot. It's painfully awkward but it somehow works.
This can't be good.
IT'S HIS ALBUM!! SO SHE CAN GIVE IT TO HER DAD!! RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is the most awkward boob-fondling I've ever seen.
To make things more awkward, Tris just decides to dance to "You Sexy Thing." It's supposed to be seductive but it's super cringey.
Nick is so damn confused.
He just drove off without Tris! She partially deserves it but she's also a teenage girl stranded late at night which is pretty messed up!
Nick finally knows what's good for him and he's having a wholesome hangout with Norah.
So Norah's "secret spot" is Electric Lady Studios. No big deal!
It's 4 a.m. and they're all still searching for Where's Fluffy. Here's the thing: New York City is always busy but every venue closes at 4! There's absolutely no way it'd go on this late unless it's at some DIY venue. It's not like it's a rave. So yeah, that wouldn't happen.
They're totally stumped.
Anyway! Caroline's still drunk as hell but at least she figured out it's an address.
These guys literally risked their lives turning the car around to go see a band. You'd think this Where's Fluffy show is LCD Soundsystem's "last" Madison Square Garden concert.
Honestly, this is what every teenage girl hopes to hear from someone. I'd like to blame this moment for why Michael Cera accidentally became an awkward celebrity crush for many teens.
Norah had her orgasm! Still weird that it's given so much importance.
Incredible how they found time to hook up AND get to the Where's Fluffy show on time.
Caroline is somehow okay now and coherent.
Nick's ex Tris is definitely not happy he left her stranded.
Tal is there and keeps trying to restrain Norah to have her watch the band with him. It's very messed up. Don't touch her!!!!!!
Awww Norah broke free and she's holding hands with Nick!
They left without seeing Where's Fluffy?! Why? Just...why?
And just like that, Nick, Norah, and the rest never slept and New York City didn't either!
So, to answer the big question: Does Nick & Norah's hold up well? Yes! Well, for the most part. There are obviously some questionable aspects. The bra thing was gross. I also highly doubt most parents would be okay with their high school-aged kids being out in New York City all night. If I had gone out until morning in high school, my parents would have definitely called 911 and thought I'd been abducted.
But, I'll admit that there are still plenty of aspects of the movie that still ring true, like Norah thinking she's not good enough for a guy like Nick even though she's perhaps even too good for him. There's a reason why teenage girls like my younger self really identified with Kat's character. Plus, the soundtrack is still pretty great!
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