The danger with
'gig movies' - films in which fresh-faced dudes convene to rock out to their favourite band - is that they do tend to have a suspicious odour of 'hipster douche' about them. Take Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist, for example. It has a terribly wanky title, a young cast who wouldn't know real rock and roll if their iPod Nano vomited it into their pockets and the promise of a 'wild night out in NYC' complete with 12A rating and mild language. It's almost enough to make you want to machine gun the audience, and that's before it's even started.
Well take your finger off the trigger, hoss. Playlist isn't quite as self-consciously hip as it might look. It is, in actual fact, a rather sweet - if unforgivably lightweight - rom-com that just happens to be set on one night in and around the New York club scene. Think of it as Superbad
without the booze or Juno
without the snarky dialogue.
Michael Cera, then. If the reason he's stalling on the forthcoming Arrested Development movie is because he fears becoming typecast, then he's too late. As Nick, the straight bass player in a 'queercore' band called The Jerk Offs, Cera rolls out his tried-and-tested one-note awkward shuffle - over-familiar, yes, but still lovable all the same. Dumped and distraught, Nick is hung up on his bitch ex-girlfriend Tris (Dziena), but over the course of a night out in New York winds up falling for her friend Norah, played by Kat Dennings (the daughter from The 40 Year-Old Virgin).
Both Cera and Dennings are great young comic actors and share a cute, subtle chemistry in their scenes together, with a witty and sharp script making their flirtation seem natural and unforced. It's a shame Nick and Norah don't have more time to get to know each other - Playlist is in such a rush to skip to the next scene, it's like their relationship is stuck on shuffle. First they kiss (via the hackneyed old 'pretend boyfriend' routine), they argue, she pouts her fantastic lips and he fingers her on a couch. And they say romance is dead.
Aside from the predictable pairing of the two leads, the rest of the night out is pretty uneventful. Music is suspiciously quiet at all the clubs they visit, all the venues look the same and all the bands they see play twee indie pop songs; the kind to iron your skinny jeans to. Sex, drugs and rock and roll? Norah has never had an orgasm, Nick is straight edge and they spend their night hunting for an emo band called Where's Fluffy. Thankfully, there's an amusing sub-plot concerning Norah's boozy best friend Caroline (Ari Graynor), whose drunken antics will be recognisable to anyone who's ever had a beered-up friend go AWOL halfway through a night out.
In fact, if Playlist could have got its drunk on a little more often, perhaps it would have struck a few more of those familiar chords - as it is, it often feels like you're chaperoning these kids round town rather than painting it red with them. As such, it's hardly the wild night out its advertised as, but perhaps more befitting for a quiet night in instead.