There’s a lot you’ll see in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist that is somehow familiar. There are sweet and slightly awkward young adults, witty and erudite beyond their years. There’s romance, and fumbling. There’s a sound track – a very good sound track actually. And there’s a night-time location of bright lights and big noise and a city that never sleeps.
Yet hiding within the familiar clothes and propelled by the familiar story is a uniquely modern, thriving world of diversity. Norah is a Jewish girl in a Catholic school for instance, a fact that’s in fact portrayed as truly unremarkable. Nick by turn is the only straight member of a gay punk band. This does not mark him or his friends out for derision or personal violence – nor the grim traditional movie-fate of being sidelined as the sage sounding boards for the female lead. It does not mark them out for anything at all actually. The gross-out humour is perpetuated by one of the girls. This is all so unremarkable it’s noteworthy.
Nick and Norah are clearly destined to fall in love before the night is over – though the movie’s plot points are the obstacles that stand in their way. Geeky Nick is wallowing self-pityingly about his manipulative ex-girlfriend Tris, (she loves him, she loves him not) whilst Norah’s best friend Caroline has gotten outrageously drunk and wandered off into big, bad New York City (cue the gross-out stuff.) But all this – and the somewhat quixotic quest to find out where their favorite band is performing – is merely a backdrop to the blossoming romance.