Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Please note that in order to provide parents with an accurate view of the content of this film, some plot spoilers are included in this review.
In popular culture’s never-ending quest to rob young people of an opportunity to enjoy their teen years without all the baggage and worry of adulthood, this movie takes the lead. It also clearly demonstrates how teen romances on the big screen have changed over the years. Where we once anticipated a first kiss between our young hero and heroine, now we are privy to a young girl’s anxious fear that if she doesn’t reach her first orgasm she will leave her date feeling humiliated and sexually insecure.
But that’s the end of the movie. In the beginning, we meet Nick (Michael Cera), a callow New Jersey high school senior who plays bass guitar as the only straight in a queercore group. He’s been sad for weeks since being dumped by his girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena). So his three gay band mates, not wanting to see their buddy continue to cloister himself in his bedroom, talk him into going to NYC to play a gig.
Minutes after their time on stage, Nick finds himself lip-to-lip with Norah (Kat Dennings), a girl desperate to have a boy on her arm for just five minutes (the time she thinks it should take to convince her teasing pals she has a male escort). Unbeknownst to either of them, they share Tris as a common acquaintance—and her influence has been just as negative on Norah.
The two introverted teens appear to be a bad match until Norah discovers Nick is the author of the many underappreciated mix-discs that were showered upon Tris. Seeing their love of similar music as a good enough reason to extend their five-minute romance, the pair sets out to find the mysterious location where an independent band is rumored to be performing. Roving the city that never sleeps and babysitting Norah’s booze-guzzling friend Caroline (Ari Graynor), this cast of adolescent characters’ tour through various iconic underground NYC clubs and hipster hangouts. Their journey is intermingled with intoxicated introductions and sexual explorations—with nary a request for proof of age.
As is often the case in the teen movie genre, there really isn’t a whole lot of plot to digest. The middle act of this mercifully short production is a tedious montage of teen soap opera discussions interspersed with scenes of the dangerously drunk Caroline getting separated from the group and throwing up in a restroom at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Also common in these films is the gross out factor—in this case Caroline has a treasured wad of gum that she inadvertently vomits into the toilet and then reaches in to retrieve. It will later be chewed again and shared by most of the cast.
As the night pushes into the early morning hours, Nick and Nora finally find themselves alone and the young lady is able to reveal her big dark secret. She has been dating a guy for three years and as yet still hasn’t reached that height of sexual pleasure. Thankfully (sarcasm noted) with Nick’s help her wish is about to be granted, and in approximately the same time it takes to order a fast food burger we hear the blissful moans of this adolescent reaching her goal.
Like many other teen movies, this film ignores the consequences of drinking, driving recklessly, and participating in casual sex. But Nick & Norah goes one step further, adding the complexities of sexual performance and satisfaction to the list of adolescent anxieties. While in their cool world the actions of these teens leads to an infinitely unbelievable happy ending, in reality this playlist would likely sing a different tune. Starring Michael Cera, Kat Dennings. Running time: 90 minutes. Theatrical release October 3, 2008. Updated July 17, 2017
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Rating & Content Info
Why is Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist rated PG-13? Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic material including teen drinking, sexuality, language and crude behavior.
This all-night adventure of a group of high school seniors deals with issues of teen drinking and sexuality without any regards for consequences. Many scenes depict high school senior-aged characters drinking, as well as attending bars and clubs. One character disguises alcohol in a juice bottle. A female character drinks to the point of near unconsciousness, revives from this state somewhat, and then begins drinking again. While we don’t specifically see characters drinking and driving, it is implied that they may be under the influence of alcohol. Also, they are often depicted driving recklessly and illegally. Frequent sexual innuendo is heard, with sexual anatomical terms used. A teenaged female discusses concerns about never having an orgasm in a past relationship and worries her inability may destroy another teen partner’s self esteem. A teenaged girl dances seductively for a male teen in the hopes of seducing him (no nudity is seen). Other female characters are seen in revealing dresses and one wears lingerie. A teen couple lies on a sofa and as the camera pans away we hear sexual sounds. A teen female character punches a teen male in the larynx, causing him to have problems breathing. A teen boy head butts a man, giving him a bleeding nose. Language includes one sexual expletive, frequent scatological terms, crude anatomical terms, crude sexual remarks and terms of Deity used as profanities. An inebriated teen girl throws up in a public toilet, and then reaches into the bowl to retrieve her gum, which she puts back into her mouth. This gum is later shared with others.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist Parents' Guide
Obviously, we feel films like this minimize the portrayals of the negative effects related to the irresponsible use of alcohol and engagement in recreational sexual behavior. How do you feel? Do you think the inclusion of consequences for the actions depicted in this film would make it more or less realistic? Do you think teen girls need to be concerned about sexually pleasing teen boys?
The most recent home video release of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist movie is February 3, 2009. Here are some details…
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist releases to DVD and Blu-ray with the following bonus materials: a digital copy of the film, deleted scenes and outtakes, a music video (Middle Management by Bishop Allen), storyboard animations (with optional filmmakers commentary), a Nick & Norah Puppet Show by Kat Dennings, a look behind-the-scenes with Ari Graynors Video Diary, faux interview with Michael Cera, Kat Dennings and Eddie Kaye Thomas, a photo Gallery and two audio commentaries (one with director Peter Sollett, actors Michael Cera, Kat Dennings and Ari Graynor, the other with Peter Sollett, authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and screenwriter
The Blu-ray edition of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist also offers these extras: Cinechat (an instant, onscreen message service), Nick & Norahs Interactive Playlist, and a Telestrator Commentary with Peter Sollett, Michael Cera, Kat Dennings and Ari Graynor.
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Although portrayals of teens behaving in socially positive ways are rare in movies, one can be found in The Mighty, the story of an unlikely friendship between two misfits. An appreciation of song ignites a teen romance in High School Musical. (Also check out the franchise’s sequels, High School Musical 2 and High School Musical 3).