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Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a 2008 comedy about two teenagers searching for love and their drunken friend on a crazy night in New York City. Michael Cera is Nick and Kat Dennings is Norah, and together they are Nick & Norah, and they have an infinite playlist. Nick has recently been dumped by his girlfriend, Tris (played by Alexis Dziena) and spends his days making mix CDs in an attempt to win her back. What he doesn’t know is that Tris simply throws them away. Norah has never met Nick, but she appreciates his taste in music and rescues his mix CDs from the trash. She has a slight crush on Nick because of this, even though she’s never met him.

            Nick’s two gay bandmates are tired of him moping around and they drag him out for a night on the town when they find out that his favorite band is playing a secret show somewhere in the city. Norah also finds out about the show, and she recruits her friend, Caroline (Ari Graynor), to help her track down the band. All the main characters end up at the same club, and Tris starts giving Norah grief for showing up alone. Norah lies and says that she’s there with her boyfriend to save face. Then she asks Nick to pretend to be her boyfriend and kisses him, unaware that this is the same guy that has been sending all those mixes to Tris. The gay bandmates see this and decided to set up Nick with Norah. They offer to drive Caroline home (who is now super drunk), so that Norah and Nick can get to know each other while they look for the secret show.

            Nick starts the night obsessing over Tris, but he gradually starts noticing Norah. Norah has a guy on the side (Jay Burachel) that complicates things a bit. Nick and Norah spend the night together getting to know each other, and naturally the bandmates somehow lose Caroline, and they have to search for her drunk ass and find clues as to where the band is going to play. Tris is now jealous of Norah and spends the rest of the night trying to get Nick’s attention. Will Nick and Norah end up together? Will they ever find the drunk girl? Will they ever find the secret gig?

The acting is so-so. It’s yet another Michael Cera film where he plays Michael Cera. Kat Dennings looks like she’s about to fall asleep at any moment. She looks bored even when she’s smiling. I have to give credit to Ari Graynor playing the blacked out Caroline. She has some of the best moments in the film, and she drives the story in a lot of ways.

This is a pretty serviceable high school movie, but it’s really not that good. There are a few things that bug me. First of all, the main characters are all in high school, but the movie takes place entirely at night in New York City. And they go to a bunch of clubs looking for the band… those clubs can’t be cool if they let fucking 18-year-olds in. My biggest beef upon reflection is that Nick and Norah are both straight edge. They don’t drink or do drugs. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it annoys the shit out of me. It’s a teen comedy. Why are the two main characters sober? It’s preachy. It’s boring. It would never happen in real life. You can’t stay up all night in NYC unless you’re being fueled by something illegal.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Zombieland

There are two major classifications of zombie movies. They are either horror films or parody films. Zombieland is one of the latter. That mean’s it’s funny. Ruben Fleischer makes his directorial debut and Jesse Eisenberg stars as a college kid struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. He teams up with a few other survivors, played by Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray makes a cameo as himself.

The movie begins with Columbus (Eisenberg) explaining how the world has gone to shit and become infested with zombies. He has a list of rules (like cardio, limber up, check the back seat, enjoy the little things) that he follows religiously to stay alive. He meets another survivor going by the name Tallahassee (Harrelson).  Tallahassee is a badass with a knack for killing zombies and a soft spot for Twinkies. They form an unlikely partnership and soon come across sisters/con artists Wichita and Little Rock (Stone and Breslin). Despite the sisters stealing their guns a few times, the four of them team up and start heading to Pacific Playland, which is supposedly free of zombies.

Along the way they start bonding and getting to know each other. They hang out with Bill Murray for a little bit. Then there’s a conflict and the group separates. The sisters go to Pacific Playland and attract a horde of zombies, but Columbus mans up and rescues them with some help from Tallahassee. The girls are saved, Columbus gets the girl, and Tallahassee gets a Twinkie.

Zombieland is a good movie. It has an interesting premise, it’s funny, it has a great cast, and a distinctive look. It’s not the best zombie parody (Shaun of the Dead was funnier and smarter), but it’s definitely entertaining and worth watching. Jesse Eisenberg carries the film. He plays shy, nerdy guys better than anyone else in Hollywood. He’s like a suave, un-annoying Michael Cera. Woody Harrelson’s always fun to watch but his character is kind of one-dimensional, even with the revelation that he can’t cope with the death of his son. Emma Stone looks as lovely as ever. And you can’t go wrong with Bill Murray in one of the best cameos of all time.

Zombies are in right now. You should have seen this movie by now. You’re slacking if you haven’t. It’s been out for a few years now. You better get on that shit.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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