I got NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST (the movie) from Netflix last weekend. I’m a fan of both Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, but this was a pretty lame movie, in my opinion. It did, however, help clarify for me why I liked the book by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan so much — which I did, very unexpectedly.
The book does not feel to me like an ode to NYC in all its glory — as Elizabeth mentioned, this was not my teenager-in-the-city experience. In fact I think part of what the book does well is capture the suburban teenager’s sense of adventure and freedom at a night out in the city, and the slight sense of smugness at “knowing” the city, which of course they don’t know or experience in the same way as a teenager who lives there like Elizabeth and I did.
Basically what I loved about the book is the consistent accurracy and immediacy of Nick and Norah’s thoughts — it just felt real to me as I was reading. I especially like that both characters are pretty self-aware and self-analytical, but it still doesn’t stop them from being utterly confused about their crushes, or going in circles in their heads, or doing the things they’re perfectly well aware that they don’t really necessarily want to be doing, which is what I was like as a teenager. And that aspect — the in-the-moment inner brain workings — doesn’t come across in movie. So you’re left with just a story about two teenagers having a night out on the town, and they come across as very predictable, a little shallow, and a little annoying, all of which is true to the characters actions in the book, but in the book you’re not paying attention to their actions, you’re following their thoughts. In the movie, you’re just following them, from one club to another.
Plus, of course, the book has the ultimate bonus: not one but two MSCL references, which are not just thrown in but are used as a natural part of Norah’s thoughts, which is dead on — trust me, a teenager who loves MSCL will automatically use it as a reference point and will, without even trying to, relate aspects of their life back to scenes from the show. Plus, Norah thinks one of my favorite quotes:
Much as I want to learn more about Nick, I also want to take a time-out so I can tell Caroline all about him. If Caroline were here, we could dissect Nick via My So-Called Life script/Jordan Catalano moments.
Rayanne: I think part of him is partly interested in you. Definitely. I mean, he’s got other things on his mind.
Angela: But that’s the part that’s so unfair. I have nothing else on my mind. How come I have to be the one sitting around analyzing him in like microscopic detail, and he gets to be the one with other things on his mind?
Rickie: That is deep.