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Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

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Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Infinite playlist.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Sollett
Produced by
Screenplay byLorene Scafaria
Based onNick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
by Rachel Cohn
David Levithan
Music byMark Mothersbaugh
CinematographyTom Richmond
Edited byMyron I. Kerstein
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 6, 2008 (2008-09-06) (TIFF)
  • October 3, 2008 (2008-10-03) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million
Box office$33.5 million

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is a 2008 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Peter Sollett and starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings. Written by Lorene Scafaria and based on the novel of the same name by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, the story tells of teenagers Nick (Cera) and Norah (Dennings), who meet when Norah asks Nick to pretend to be her boyfriend for five minutes. Over the course of the night, they try to find their favorite band's secret show and search for Norah's drunken best friend.

The film came into development in 2003 when producer Kerry Kohansky Roberts found Cohn and Levithan's novel and decided to adapt it for film. Scafaria was hired to write the script in 2005, and Sollett signed on to direct the film in 2006. Principal photography took place over 29 days from October to December 2007, primarily in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York City.

The film premiered on September 6, 2008, at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and was released theatrically on October 3, 2008. It tripled its US$10 million budget with a total gross of US$33.5 million. An accompanying soundtrack was released on September 23, 2008, and the film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 3, 2009. It attracted generally positive reviews from critics and received nominations for three Satellite Awards, one GLAAD Media Award, one MTV Movie Award and one Golden Reel Award.


Nick O'Leary is a straight bass player in a queercore band that is searching for a name, but tentatively calls themselves The Jerk-Offs. A teenager from Hoboken, New Jersey, he is still heartbroken after his girlfriend, Tris, broke up with him three weeks, two days, and 23 hours ago, and continues to make "breakup" mix CDs for her. Thom and Dev, his gay bandmates who both hate Tris, convince Nick to perform at a club because his favorite band—the legendary, publicity-shy indie band Where's Fluffy?—is performing at an undisclosed location in New York City that night.

Norah Silverberg attends the same high school as Tris, Convent of the Sacred Heart, and though they dislike each other, they have a mutual friend named Caroline. Norah has not met Nick, but shares his taste in music based on recovering his mix CDs after Tris discards them. The three girls end up at Arlene's Grocery on Manhattan's Lower East Side, where The Jerk-Offs are playing. Norah asks Nick to pretend to be her boyfriend after Tris teases her about her lack of a boyfriend. Norah kisses him, unaware that he is the ex-boyfriend of Tris. Caroline gets drunk and Norah wants to take her home, but Nick's bandmates (who see Norah as a potential new girlfriend for him) offer to take Caroline home so Norah and Nick can spend time together trying to find the show.

When Thom and Dev stop at Gray's Papaya for hot dogs, a confused Caroline escapes from Thom's van. Nick and Norah meet up with Thom and Dev to try to find her. A confusing phone call leads them to look for her at a club that "Where's Fluffy?" is rumored to be playing, but with no success in finding Caroline or the band. Tris, eager to win back Nick, catches up with them when she gets a phone call from Caroline, who is now able to tell Norah that she has "found Jesus" and "an altar boy without pants." They finally locate a drunk Caroline on stage at a gay cabaret dressed as a Christmas tree. When they arrive at Nick's car, Tris is sitting on the hood waiting for him. Norah tells him how nice it was to meet him, but he leaves to talk with Tris without giving Norah a response.

An upset Norah meets up at a club with her friend with benefits, Tal, but soon realizes that he has an ulterior motive and hopes to get a deal for his band with Norah's father, a famous record producer. Disgusted with Tal, she agrees to cover his and his friends' drinks, but then tells the waitress to increase the tab because there was a miscalculation, and she leaves him to pay. Nick, meanwhile, decides to confront Tris, but she pleads for a ride home and flirts with him in the car. Tris asks Nick to stop by the river, where she tries to seduce him. Whilst she seductively dances in front of the car, Nick reminisces fondly about Norah and the night's events and drives away, leaving Tris behind.

Nick calls Norah, apologizing for leaving, and she agrees to meet him again. Deciding to go somewhere where no one they know will find them, they arrive at Electric Lady Studios, a music studio owned by Norah's father. Once there, Norah gets Nick to play something he wrote in the studio then joins him in the recording room where they hook up. Norah gets a text message from Caroline telling her where she found Where's Fluffy? playing. When they arrive at the show, they meet Tris, who cannot understand why Nick will not take her back, and Tal, who wants the same answer from Norah. Tal starts a fight with Nick, but Thom and Dev's friend, Lethario (Jonathan B. Wright), steps in and headbutts Tal. Nick and Norah share a smile and leave together. At Pennsylvania Station, Nick admits that he does not care about missing the concert, and they kiss on the escalator as the sun rises over New York City.


  • Michael Cera plays Nick, the "straight bass player in a gay band" teenager who is heartbroken after his girlfriend breaks up with him. Cera was the first actor to be cast after being recommended to Sollett by producer Kerry Kohansky Roberts based on his performance in Arrested Development.[1][2] Sollett called him a "genius" and a "terrific actor",[3] as well as a "brilliant improvisational comedian".[4] Cera, who had previously taken improvisation classes, said that "It's fun [to improvise], just having a conversation. It always feels real because it is real."[5] He lived in an apartment in New York's East Village for the duration of filming.[6] Cera had never driven a stick shift vehicle before filming, and was taught so that he could be shot driving Nick's Yugo.[1]
  • Kat Dennings plays Norah, the teenage daughter of a wealthy record producer who shares Nick's passion for music. Dennings was the second actor to be cast (Cera having been first),[1] Sollett saying that "her being liberated from [people's expectations] liberated the film in many ways, and certainly her character from cliché."[7] Dennings felt that she related to Norah more than any other she had played before and "wanted to make sure she was really fleshed out".[8] Her favorite day of shooting was with a group of drag queens at a gay cabaret,[1] but she said that filming Norah's first orgasm was "really uncomfortable... Really, really."[9]
  • Alexis Dziena plays Tris, Nick's unfaithful ex-girlfriend who attends school with Norah and Caroline. Dziena was one of the first actors cast, having done her final read-through audition with Cera, Dennings, and Graynor.[1] She said that the filming period was "a really fantastic time", but complained about the night shoots and having to sleep through the day: "Oh, it's terrible. ... I'm okay as long as the sun's not up when I'm going to sleep but sleeping during the day is rough."[10]
  • Ari Graynor plays Caroline, Norah's best friend. Graynor auditioned for the roles of both Norah and Caroline, and was chosen to play Caroline, which she says rescued her from "one of those horrible actor black holes of really thinking that I'd probably never work again".[11] Graynor related to both characters, saying that "I've had many nights as Caroline. And I've had many nights as Norah, taking care of Caroline."[11] Sollett claimed that "everything she did in the movie was her own invention", calling her improvisation "brilliant".[4] She improvised an entire scene taking place at the Port Authority Bus Station in which Caroline talks to a stranger and which was not part of the script.[4] When Caroline vomits, Graynor held a mixture of ginger ale and ginger cookie in her mouth which she spat into a toilet and a bag.[1]
  • Aaron Yoo plays Thom, Nick's friend and the guitarist for The Jerk-Offs. Yoo was supposed to mime playing the guitar when filming The Jerk-Offs' concert, but requested that he be taught the chords to play when he had spare time. He found it very difficult to drive the van featured in the film and jokingly referred to it as a "tank" and a "World War II veteran".[12]
  • Rafi Gavron plays Dev, Nick's friend and the lead singer of The Jerk-Offs. Gavron recorded a song performed by The Jerk-Offs in the film at Electric Lady Studios, where part of the story takes place. Filming The Jerk-Offs' concert at Don Hill's in New York, the owner of the bar, Don Hill, mistook Gavron for a professional musician in spite of Gavron's calling himself a "useless singer".[13]
  • Jonathan B. Wright as Beefy Guy (Lethario), a new gay friend of Thom and Dev.
  • Jay Baruchel plays Tal, Norah's "friend with benefits" and an amateur musician. Baruchel said that the film was "by far the hippest movie I've ever been in—that's for damn sure".[14]


  • Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, authors of the same-titled novel on which the film is based, have uncredited cameos as a couple sitting behind Nick and Norah at a diner.[15]
  • Lorene Scafaria, who wrote the screenplay for the film, cameos with as Drunk Girl in Yugo
  • Seth Meyers and Andy Samberg, then working together in the cast of Saturday Night Live, cameo as Drunk Guy in Yugo and Homeless Man, respectively
  • Eddie Kaye Thomas, Graynor's then boyfriend, cameos as Jesus in a gay cabaret[11]
  • John Cho cameos as Hype Man
  • Kevin Corrigan agreed to cameo as Man at Port Authority so long as he had no speaking lines; his turkey sandwich scene, which was not scripted, was entirely improvised by Graynor.[4]
  • Devendra Banhart, whose song "Lover" plays during the opening credits/scenes, cameos as Customer in Deli.[16]



Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist was originally the novel written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, which producer Kerry Kohansky Roberts brought into development as a film in 2003.[17] Lorene Scafaria was hired by Roberts in early 2005 to adapt the novel for Chris and Paul Weitz and Focus Features;[18][19] the script was her first film adaptation.[20] Peter Sollett signed on to direct the film in 2006, when the script was in its second draft, and collaborated with Scafaria.[4] Scafaria said that Norah "was me on the page",[20] while Sollett felt that as a teenager he was "not dissimilar to Nick".[4] Both had similar experiences to Nick and Norah, commuting into Manhattan at night, Scafaria from New Jersey and Sollett from Staten Island.[2]

Cohn and Levithan had written the novel in alternating chapters: Cohn writing from Norah's perspective and Levithan writing from Nick's perspective.[21] Cera and Dennings recorded voice-over narration to mimic the first-person perspective from which the novel is written, but the voice-overs were not included in the final cut of the film.[22] Scafaria says that the differences between the novel and the film were "to make it a little more cinematic". She said that Nick and Norah's parents were written out of the script "to absorb what it's like to be young, [because] you're not thinking about your parents when you're out all night".[20] In addition to searching for Where's Fluffy?, Sollett felt that the film needed a second MacGuffin to propel the story forwards, so Norah's best friend Caroline got drunk and then lost, giving Nick and Norah an additional objective.[4]


Shooting on a budget of US$10 million,[23] principal photography of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist took place from late October to early December 2007.[24] The film was shot over 29 days in one-week blocks,[4][25] and was one of the first to receive a filming subsidy from the state of New York under the "Made in NY" incentive program.[26] Filming took place mainly in Manhattan's East Village and Lower East Side,[9] as well as Williamsburg, Brooklyn.[27] Filming locations included Katz's Delicatessen, Mercury Lounge, Arlene's Grocery, Pennsylvania Station, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Veselka restaurant, and Don Hill's bar.[2][27][28] Union Pool, a bar in Brooklyn, was also used for filming but requested to be called "Brooklyn Pool" in the film,[4] and Norah's father's recording studio was filmed at Electric Lady Studios.[25] Some scenes were shot on a sound stage in a studio in Brooklyn.[9]

The cast did many rehearsals, including on-location rehearsals, which Dennings described as "the most practical thing I've ever heard of".[1] During the course of filming, the actors slept during the day, woke in the afternoon, had their make-up applied on set, and filmed from dusk until dawn.[22] The cast and crew members would often sit inside The Jerk-Offs' van between takes to avoid the cold, and sometimes stayed inside, out of sight, while scenes were being filmed in the van.[12][29] Reshoots of the film began in May 2008;[29] the film had originally begun at The Jerk-Offs' show where Nick and Norah first meet, and all prior scenes were written in later.[30] Editor Myron Kerstein cut some of the shots on set due to time and budgetary restraints.[31]


Critical response[edit]

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist received generally positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 74% based on 183 reviews, with an average score of 6.52/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist combines a pair of charming leads, the classic New York backdrop, and a sweet soundtrack".[32] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 64 out of 100, based on 32 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[33]

Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising Dennings' on-screen presence, the "considerable chemistry" between Cera and Dennings, and the "excellent" soundtrack.[34] The New York Times critic A. O. Scott described Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist as a "shy, sweet romance" that "surveys the varieties of teenage experience with tolerant sympathy".[35] James Berardinelli of ReelViews reviewed the film warmly with three out of four stars, complimenting the soundtrack, the "witty" dialog and the appeal of the film to both adults and teenagers.[36] Michael Ordona wrote for the Los Angeles Times that the film is familiar, but is "fleshed out with atmosphere, a nice blend of broad goofiness and sophistication, and two appealing leads who bring it to life".[37] Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum graded the film as an A–, giving particular commendation to its nonchalant portrayal of gay teenagers and Norah's Jewish identity.[38] Richard Corliss of Time magazine opined that the film was "smart, sweet, [and] bordering-on-adorable" while the title characters were "worth watching, admiring and cuddling up to".[39]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist "doesn't bring much to the party. [...] It's not much of a film, but it sort of gets you halfway there, like a Yugo."[40] Rolling Stone's Peter Travers gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, saying, "I'm yawning just writing this. ... Sollett, hoping for a Before Sunrise/Before Sunset vibe, sadly settles for a soggy aftertaste."[41] In a review for The Village Voice, Robert Wilonsky likened the film to "something crafted in a lab by 54-year-old hucksters trying to sell shit to the kids under the cheerless guise of 'alternative.' The only thing it's an alternative to? Good."[42] Variety magazine's John Anderson described it as a "sparsely plotted comedy" that is "sweet, no doubt, but a bit too slick for its own good".[43]

Box office[edit]

Sollett and the cast at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival

The world premiere of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist was held on September 6, 2008 at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.[44] It was released theatrically in the United States on October 3, 2008, grossing US$11,311,751 from 2,421 screens on its debut weekend, placing third in the box office rankings.[45] The following weekend, it grossed $6,420,474 with a per-screen average of $2,652 and a cumulative gross of $20,730,708, ranking fifth.[45] It earned another $3,693,384 on its third weekend with a per-screen average of $1,648 and a cumulative gross of $26,500,875, dropping to eighth place.[45] The film ended its theatrical run with a total domestic gross of $31,487,293 and a foreign gross of $2,018,844, giving a worldwide total of $33,506,137.[23] It placed 92nd for the highest-grossing films of 2008 and 85th for the year's highest-grossing opening weekends.[23]

The film was screened at the London Film Festival in October 2008[46] and at the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema in March 2009.[47]

Award nominations[edit]

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist was nominated for three Satellite Awards, in the categories of Best Film – Musical or Comedy, Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Michael Cera), Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Kat Dennings), but failed to win any.[48] The film was also nominated at the GLAAD Media Awards in the category of Outstanding Film – Wide Release,[49] and Kat Dennings was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance – Female.[50] The film's supervising music editor Andrew Dorfman was nominated for a Golden Reel Award by the Motion Picture Sound Editors for Best Sound Editing – Music in a Feature Film, but did not win.[51]

Home media[edit]

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist was released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America on February 3, 2009. The disc includes: one audio commentary with Peter Sollett, Michael Cera, Kat Dennings and Ari Graynor, and another with Sollett, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan, and Lorene Scafaria; the featurettes "A Nick and Norah Puppet Show by Kat Dennings" and "Ari Graynor's Video Diary: A Look Behind-the-Scenes"; a music video for Bishop Allen's song "Middle Management"; storyboard animations with optional audio commentary; a faux interview with Michael Cera, Kat Dennings and Eddie Kaye Thomas; deleted scenes; outtakes; and a photo gallery.[52]


Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedSeptember 23, 2008
LabelAtlantic Records
ProducerMyron Kerstein

Cohn and Levithan's novel contained many musical references, including songs by The Cure and Green Day, as did Scafaria's screenplay, which she originally submitted with a mix CD featuring her ideas for the film's soundtrack, including songs by The Black Keys, Bloc Party, and Frou Frou.[20] In the final cut of the film, however, most of the music was chosen by Sollett, editor Myron Kerstein and music supervisor Linda Cohen.[3] Sollett said that he "got lucky" with the songs that he was able to choose because, within the financiers and the studio, "there was nobody in that group who knew all that much about music or the music that we had in the film".[3] His objective when selecting the music was to find "the best music you haven't heard yet", primarily from bands based in New York City.[4] While filming in New York, he emailed songs "right out of my iTunes [library]" which he thought would suit particular scenes to Kerstein, who was in Los Angeles assembling the film as it was shot.[2]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars [53]
Blogcritics(positive) [54]
Daily News(positive) [55]
IGN(8.4/10) [56]
The Playlist(negative) [57]
Spin(negative) [58]
Track listing
1."Speed of Sound"Chris Bell5:11
2."Lover"Devendra Banhart3:40
3."Middle Management"Bishop Allen2:44
4."Ottoman"Vampire Weekend4:02
5."Riot Radio"The Dead 60s2:22
6."Fever"Takka Takka3:12
7."Xavia"The Submarines4:34
8."After Hours"We Are Scientists3:52
9."Our Swords"Band of Horses2:26
10."Silvery Sleds"Army Navy4:15
11."Baby, You're My Light"Richard Hawley2:54
12."Very Loud"Shout Out Louds4:05
13."How to Say Goodbye"Paul Tiernan3:28
14."Last Words"The Real Tuesday Weld4:57
15."Nick and Norah's Theme"Mark Mothersbaugh5:10

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Douglas, Edward (September 29, 2008). "Michael Cera & Kat Dennings are Nick and Norah". Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d Zacharek, Stephanie (September 30, 2008). "Isn't it romantic?". Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Dawson, Nick (October 3, 2008). "Peter Sollett, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kelly, Michael. "Peter Sollett Interview, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, Toronto 2008". Archived from the original on November 28, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  5. ^ Roberts, Sheila. "Michael Cera, Kat Dennings Interview, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist". Archived from the original on September 5, 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  6. ^ Onstad, Katrina (September 26, 2008). "Almost Famous, for Better or Worse". The New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  7. ^ Rosen, Lisa (October 2, 2008). "Screen teen angel". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  8. ^ Miller, Jenni (September 2, 2008). "Exclusive Interview: 'Nick and Norah' Star Kat Dennings". Premiere. Archived from the original on March 26, 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c Rozemeyer, Karl (October 2, 2008). "Michael Cera and Kat Dennings on 'Nick and Norah'". Premiere. Archived from the original on May 28, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  10. ^ Roberts, Sheila. "Alexis Dziena Interview, Fool's Gold". Archived from the original on April 30, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  11. ^ a b c Freydkin, Donna (October 7, 2008). "'Infinite Playlist' has a New York beat for city girl Graynor". USA Today. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
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  14. ^ "Tropic Thunder Interviews: Jay Baruchel". UGO. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  15. ^ Deahl, Rachel (January 18, 2008). "David Levithan: The Happy Editor-Writer". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on November 18, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
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  17. ^ Kaufman, Anthony (September 3, 2008). "10 Producers to Watch: Kerry Kohansky Roberts". Variety. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
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  24. ^ Utichi, Joe (October 16, 2007). "Huge Casting Call". Archived from the original on April 23, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  25. ^ a b Vigil, Delfin (September 28, 2008). "Music of chance unites two teens". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  26. ^ "MOFTB Supports "Made in NY" Films in Toronto". Mayor of New York City's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. September 2, 2008. Archived from the original on June 1, 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
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  35. ^ Scott, A. O. (October 3, 2008). "For Muddled Youth, Music to Live By". The New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
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  54. ^ Johans, Jen (September 20, 2008). "Music Review: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Blogcritics. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  55. ^ Farber, Jim (October 3, 2008). "So, how hip is 'Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist'?". Daily News. New York. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
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External links[edit]