I’ve spoken before about how high expectations have ruined films that I probably would have liked, but I’ve never gone back to a film and had my opinion fall so much as it did with Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. There are films I’m sure I wouldn’t appreciate as much as I did when I was a kid, other than for nostalgic reasons, like Hulk Hogan’s Suburban Commando or the Kevin and Perry film but it wasn’t that long ago that I’d seen Nick and Norah.
I guess expectation was the cause of the problem at the first viewing. I remember being intrigued by the film, from the trailer which seemed ok but also the attraction that Michael Cera had at the time. It was in the middle of his period in the spotlight, around the time of both Superbad and Juno. I liked him in both those films and think he is brilliant in Arrested Development, a series I was watching around that time too. That meant that another Michael Cera film seemed like a good idea and from what the trailer showed me, he was playing his usual, likable, awkward but funny character.
That meant I went into this film thinking it would be ok, maybe even good and ended up really liking it, despite my initial expectation. I was even putting it in the same category as the other “romantic-comedy/girlie films” that I like, Love Actually and 10 Things I Hate About You. This also meant that when my girlfriend got sent the movie recently from LoveFilm, I jumped at the chance to re-watch it and sang it praises, expecting my girlfriend to love it too.
I set my expectation really high! Nobody else. No-one had told me this film was a masterpiece (like they had with Raging Bull) or told me I’d love the main character (like Big Lebowski). This was all me, telling myself it was one of my favourite films! So I started watching it with great enthusiasm and then began to get more and more disappointed as I realised that it wasn’t as funny as I first thought, the characters weren’t as cool as I first thought and as the credits rolled, I wasn’t that impressed!
That doesn’t mean I hated Nick and Norah this time around, my impression of the film didn’t fall that far. It is definitely above average and the characters are pretty cool and very likable, like I first remembered. Michael Cera doesn’t do anything he hasn’t done in loads of other film roles though but luckily it fits with the story and helps you root for the character. I also used to think Kat Denning’s Norah was a big part of why I liked this film. She seemed funny, sarcastic, cool but also realistic. I didn’t get that this time but I blame Easy A for that – Emma Stone’s Olive out-cooled Kat Denning’s Norah.
I’m not sure you’d call this a romantic comedy. It is definitely a teen comedy/love story though and compared to other films that fit that genre, it is definitely better. There were still moments that made me laugh, the slapstick character of Caroline is brilliant, as are Nick’s bandmates who cause the night to be even more chaotic than it already is.
I also like the format. For a film that is essentially a first date, the fact it becomes one hunt after another, told in just one night, forcing these two characters to get to know each other, is clever and a good way of showing how they “fall in love.” The music as a thread through the film’s story raises it above other movies that you might put in the same category.
Overall, my own expectations kind of ruined my impression of Nick and Norah. I’m not completely sure why I thought this film was so good and why I was even considering adding it to my own film collection. I guess it goes to show that our film tastes really do change, even if the gap between views is only, at most, four years! Now, where can I find Suburban Commando?
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)