I'll never, ever, chew gum again.
Kat Dennings' "Norah" is annoying and unpleasant. Sufficiently so, in fact, to actually be a high school girl. As such, she is the only thing remotely plausible about the entire movie.
Michael Cera is to the 'noughties what Anthony Michael Hall was to the eighties: the nerd who makes good. But the nature of the archetype requires these actors to spend their movies, as in Superbad and Juno in Cera's case, or Sixteen Candles in Hall's, exerting themselves in heroic effort to impress the girl. What neither of them is, however, is a plausible leading man in the traditional sense. Nick & Norah asks us to believe a backstory in which Cera's "Nick" holds down Alexis Dziena's "Tris" as a girlfriend for six months prior to the movie's beginnings. It further asks us to believe that Norah and Tris would spend the entire movie competing with each other to be with him. Neither Cera's performance nor the storyline itself gives us any reason why this should be so.
Tris, by the way, is more of movieland's traditional fantasy of what high school girls are like. Which is to say, more like what Hollywood screenwriters wish girls had been like when they were in high school.
The movie asks us to believe that Norah has already fallen in love with Nick, not because of his actual music (Nick plays bass in a band, which would explain his outsized SMV were the band not so loserish), but because of his -- wait for it -- mixes. Now, I've done mixes myself, but it never crossed my mind that I was engaging in a form of original art. And considering that Norah's father is supposed to be a prominent recording studio honcho, I would think that Norah would not be particularly impressed by his ability to copy other people's music.
The movie asks us to believe that high school students (all the central characters appear to be graduating seniors) can easily get served in NYC bars. Now, Mrs. Φ got served in NYC bars as a college student in the eighties. But she was extremely skeptical that they would treat their liquor licenses quite so cavalierly.
Um . . . where are the parents? I mean, I know these kids are 18-ish, but do the white moms and dads of northern New Jersey (where all these kids are from, apparently) really not worry when their pride-and-joys go tearing around Manhattan on an all-night drunken orgy? Are high school girls -- not just average girls, but upper middle class prep school girls -- really the unapologetic sluts that this movie makes them out to be? Yet in this movie, the parents are magically airbrushed away. I'm so glad we homeschool. The longer I can shield my daughters from this world, the better off they'll be.
The movie asks us to believe that Nick owns and drives a Yugo, that Serbian econo-deathtrap from the early 1980s. I was immediately skeptical: I was once a passenger in a Yugo some 15 years ago, and the experience was truly frightening even then. But today? To get a measure of a Yugo's likely road worthiness, I did a search them on Autotrader.com. Want to guess how many are presently for sale nationwide?
The movie asks us to believe that Nick can get curbside parking in front of the hottest nightspots in Manhattan. ("Hottest" as in, they've got people queueing outside the velvet rope.) Personally, I can't get curbside parking at my suburban mall out here in flyover country.
One more thing. Norah and Tal, her boyfriend de jure, are not only Jewish, but stereotypically New York Jewish. The movie shows this in a negative light. Which surprised me, not because New York Jews aren't not-very-nice (I have no idea whether or not this is true), but that a mainstream movie would say this out loud. It means either one of two things: either Jews are losing control of the media, or Jews are sufficiently confident of their social power that they no longer feel a need to clean up for the larger public. The screenplay was written by an Italian, but the underlying novel was written by Jews. So I have no idea what to think.