Reviewer's Grade: B-
Once upon a time " in the Thirties and Forties, to be precise " the names Nick and Nora were synonymous with mystery, elegance and wit as dry as vermouth. The teenage Nick and Norah of "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" aren't quite so silky smooth. Based on a 2006 novel for young adults, the film begins with lovesick Nick O'Leary (Michael Cera) unceremoniously dumped by his hottie girlfriend, Tris (Alexis Dziena). The breakup doesn't prevent Nick from continuing to inundate the girl with homemade compilation CDs that have more than a whiff of desperation. Tris trashes the gifts, but the discarded discs catch the discerning ear of Norah Silberberg (Kat Dennings) a girl at Tris' school who shares Nick's musical tastes.
One evening Nick and his fellow Jerk Offs (Rafi Gavron and Aaron Yoo) play a gig in Manhattan. Nick and Norah have one of those meet-cutes that occur only in the movies and quickly take off in Nick's taxicab-yellow Yugo to track down where a mysterious band they both love is supposed to perform. Fifteen minutes in, you know pretty much everywhere "Nick and Norah" is headed. These lovable misfits will feel a mutual attraction and fall in love as the magical evening wears on, but not without the requisite adventures, gross-out gags and manufactured miscommunication. Nick must cope with temptation from the conniving Tris, while Norah has to ward off her own bad-news sometimes-boyfriend, Tal (Jay Baruchel).
Michael Cera and Kat Dennings go a long way toward the picture's appeal. Cera doesn't veer much from the sensitive, awkward nebbish he played in "Juno" and television's defunct "Arrested Development," but no problem: He does it exceedingly well. Dennings gives a self-assured, naturalistic performance that feels unequivocally right; her tiniest inflection makes even the most innocuous lines pregnant with meaning. PG-13