Blu-ray
Rent it First
3 stars
List Price
$14.99
Amazon
$9.45 (37%)
3rd Party
$2.49
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Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
3 Stars
High-Def Extras
3 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent it First

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Street Date:
February 3rd, 2009
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
May 21st, 2009
Movie Release Year:
2008
Studio:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Length:
90 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

One of the movies I really wanted to see last fall was the romance-comedy 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.' I like actor Michael Cera and loved him in 'Superbad,' and the trailers looked funny and showed real promise. I never did make it out to see it on the big screen, though, and since then the film completely stayed off my radar. That is of course, until I received a copy recently for review. Now I finally had my opportunity to see it, in high-definition no less, but as much as I hoped to enjoy the movie, I just couldn't get into it. For me, the pacing was way too slow, it seemed the trailers had revealed all the handful of laughs, and I had a hell of a time trying to stay awake through the whole thing. The experience was about as sleep-inducing as any song by another Norah -- Norah Jones.

Based on the young adult novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' tells the story of two high school seniors brought together by fate and their passion for indie music. Nick O'Leary (Michael Cera), the guitarist and the only straight member of an all-gay band called The Jerk-Offs, has been moping around for weeks after being dumped by his beautiful but hollow shell of a girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena). Hoping to cheer up their band mate, Dev (Rafi Gavron) and Thom (Aaron Yoo) decide to take Nick for a night on the town, cruising the underground music scene of Manhattan in search of an elusive group known as Where's Fluffy? Meanwhile, Norah Silverberg (Kat Dennings), who has similar tastes in music, meets Nick while clubbing with her best friend Caroline (Ari Graynor). As the window of opportunity for potential romance begins to close thanks to a drunken Caroline, matchmakers Dev and Thom step in to help guide Cupid's arrow -- but is Nick still too blinded by his infatuation with Tris to notice something special right before his eyes?

I had been wondering why the word "infinite" was placed into the title of this film, and now it all makes perfect sense: the first half felt like it was going to drag on forever. Following the setup for the story, we are forced to watch either conversation after conversation of generic teen dialogue, or cars driving from point A to point B to point C and so on -- with not much else happening on screen. Actually there is the side plot of Caroline venturing off on her drunken walkabout throughout the city encountering all kinds of New York's insane denizens and always managing to be one step ahead of those desperate to find her, but to be honest it came across more like filler and I'll probably remember as much of this as Caroline will when she wakes up the next morning.

To be fair, it wasn't a total bust, largely thanks to the two leads commanding the title characters. Whenever we need an awkward and naïve all-around nice guy, Cera was born for the part. As expected, he delivers here as well, the only thing that concerns me is that his lack of versatility may permanently typecast him for these types of roles. Then there's the sweet, charming, and sophisticated Kat Dennings as Norah. Both she and Cera have good chemistry with each other, it's just too bad they didn't have more to work with. As for the other characters, the only one that receives any decent amount of time on camera is Graynor, and even she is pretty one-dimensional, being totally wasted the entire time. One thing I did like was the way the gay characters weren't portrayed as the usual stereotypical caricatures as they usually are in movies, but the fact remains they still didn't have much to do.

Yes, I know 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' has its dedicated followers -- I'm just not one of them. The soundtrack of indie music was alright, but personally I was flat out bored with the rest of the presentation. Although I will agree that parts of the film attempt to treat the audience with intelligence, this is all washed away when a piece of chewing gum gets more screen time and adventure than some of the characters. Either we have a subliminal product placement commercial for Stride on our hands, or one of the executive producers must've been Willy Wonka.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The Sony engineers present the film on a BD-50 with a pretty good 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (1.85:1 aspect ratio) encode, but this one still has enough quirks to prevent me from calling it a slam dunk for the format.

The film has a warm palette with bold and vivid colors such as Nick's bright yellow Yugo, and contrast is strong. Flesh tones also look realistic, if a tad on the soft side. The picture has a small amount of grain that becomes noticeably heavier during interior scenes inside vehicles, as well as some compression noise. Black levels are firm, but as the film mostly takes place at night, larger patches like overhead views of the city aren't as deep as they could be, plus there is a bit of mild crushing in some sequences. I've seen better Blu-rays, but I've also seen much worse.

By the way, those concerned about region playback will be pleased that the U.S. version of 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' on Blu-ray isn't region-locked and therefore should play on all PlayStation 3 and standalone players.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The lossless English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track sounds great for what it's worth. The film's audio is primarily front-channel heavy, and the dialogue comes through clear and crisp without issues. Mark Mothersbaugh's score combined with the assortment of indie tunes that are essentially the heart of the film, both sound terrific. Dynamic range is powerful, and the bass isn't overly active, but still has a decent presence. There isn't much in the way of surround activity here, though, aside from the slight background chatter from the nightclubs. Generally speaking, the track isn't demo material by any means, but for this type of movie it's very competent.

The disc also includes Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks in French and Portuguese, as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in Spanish. The feature film has optional subtitles in Arabic, Dutch, English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, while the commentary has subtitles available in Dutch, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Sony packs this Blu-ray disc with a wide array of supplemental material ported over from the standard-definition 2-Disc Special Edition DVD release.

  • Audio Commentary – Kicking off the supplements is a pretty standard commentary with Director Peter Sollett, authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, and screenwriter Lorene Scafaria. It’s a pretty dry discussion, but fans of the novel may find the comparisons to the film interesting.

  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes – Next we raid the cutting room floor for roughly ten minutes of deleted material. The nine scenes are presented in standard-definition.

  • Ari Graynor's Video Diary (SD, 3:56) – Basically home video footage from the cast members on the set and behind-the-scenes.

  • Puppet Show by Kat Dennings (SD, 5:12) – A paper cutout ‘Nick and Norah' puppet show by actress Kat Dennings. Some people might find this amusing, but it didn’t do anything for me.

  • Outtakes (SD, 4:12) – A pretty dull collection of outtakes, actually. It’s here anyway for fans of the film.

  • Faux Interview with Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, and Eddie Kaye Thomas (SD, 2:50) – A mildly comical interview featuring the two leads of the movie.

  • Storyboard Animations – A pair of storyboard sequences with optional commentary by Peter Sollett and Myron Kerstein.

  • Music Video (SD, 2:42) – Bishop Allen’s music video for “Middle Management.”

  • Peter Sollett's Photo Album – A still gallery of production and behind-the-scenes photos. The images can be viewed selectively or as a slideshow.

  • Digital Copy – A second disc includes a digital copy of the film compatible with PSP, Mac, or iPod.

  • Previews – Rounding out the regular supplements are high-definition trailers for ‘Blu-ray disc is High-Definition ,’ ‘Rent: Live on Broadway,' 'Passengers,' 'Seven Pounds,' 'The House Bunny,' 'Across the Universe,' '21,' and 'The Other Boleyn Girl.'

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

The Blu-ray disc also includes a few high-definition exclusive supplements that I’m sure some fans of the film may want to check out.

  • Telestrator Commentary – The first exclusive is a second commentary track, this time with Peter Sollett and cast members Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, and Ari Graynor. Apparently this is the first Blu-ray disc with the telestrator feature allowing the participants to draw on the screen during the movie similar to sports commentators. The track has spurts of useful info and is much more energetic than the first track, although it did seem a fair amount of the time is spent goofing off and doodling around with the new toy.

  • Nick and Norah’s Interactive Playlist – This addition is a pop-up trivia track with tidbits of information from the movie. This feature also enables viewers to create their own playlist of songs from the film’s soundtrack.

  • Cinechat – An interactive feature enables viewers to create personas and chat online with other people during the movie. A BD-Live compatible player is required to use this feature.

  • BD-Live – The final exclusive is BD-Live connectivity, however the area just contains trailers and a survey with no other real exclusives.

Final Thoughts

I won't argue that many will find 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' to be an atmospheric teen romance that's hip and trendy. On the other hand, I'm sure I speak on behalf of others when I say that the film's snail pace and dry wit may turn out to be a bit of a disappointment. The Blu-ray offers fair video, good audio, plus extensive supplements, but if you haven't seen the movie yet it would be wise to give this one a rent first before jumping in on a blind buy.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1
  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround
  • French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround
  • Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround
  • French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround
  • Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • Dutch
  • French
  • Spanish
  • English SDH
  • Arabic
  • Dutch
  • French

Supplements

  • Audio Commentary
  • Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video
  • Storyboards
  • Outtakes

Exclusive HD Content

  • Telestrator Commentary
  • Cinechat
  • Interactive Playlist and Trivia Track
  • Telestrator Commentary
  • Cinechat
  • Interactive Playlist and Trivia Track

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List Price
$14.99
Amazon
$9.45 (37%)
3rd Party
$2.49
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»