Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fiction to Film - Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

The Fiction
Authors: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2007
Length: 192 pages
Genre: Young Adult fiction

One night. One gig. One question. One kiss. One adventure.
"Would you mind being my girlfriend for the next five minutes?"

Down, dumped and not wanting to look totally pathetic in front of his ex, bassist Nick asks a random girl, Norah, to momentarily act as his girlfriend after a gig. They share a kiss, which leads to an electrifying night of drunks, driving downtown in a Yugo, drag queens and the search for a secret performance by Where's Fluffy - the pair's favourite band.

I know I tend to gush on here, but I love this book. I mean, really love this book. As in this book is one of my all-time, no questions asked, favourite books. Therefore, a film adaptation was always going to be a tricky one for me. Now I'm usually a fairly sympathic book-to-film kinda girl, but I won't lie, I was super worried about what Sony Pictures was going to do to it.

The Film
Director: Peter Sollett
Screenplay: Lorene Scafaria
Studio: Sony Pictures
Released: 2008 (or supposedly 2009 in Australia, though I'm fairly certain with the exception of an advanced screening at the Melbourne Moonlight Cinema, it did not show here).
Cast: Michael Cera (Nick), Kat Dennings (Norah), Ari Graynor (Caroline), Jay Baruchel (Tal)

As it turned out, I don't think I needed to have worried too much. Don't get me wrong, the book is still infinetely better, but the film is still very awesome. As far as adaptations go, it ranks pretty highly in my opinion - whilst not page for page (or frame for frame), it still definitely captures the essence of the novel that I loved. I'll go into more detail and share some of my best/worst moments below.

Hope you liked my first Fiction to Film review - I'm hoping to make it a regular feature on here!

What's Right
- Kat Dennings - when I first heard she was cast, all I could think of was that whiny, annoying girl in The 40 Year Old Virgin. Hmmm, was not convinced. My concern was again, unecessary as Kat Dennings did a pretty kick-arse job. Straight talking, no bullshit with a dry sense of humour and a glimmer of vulnerability. I know she is possibly not everyones cup of tee (and The House Bunny was pretty bad) but I think she made the character transition to film very well. My only whinge is the fact that film Norah puts on the push-up bra following a pep talk from Dev. Book Norah would not resort to that kind of move, especially not with some random bra that has been floating around a scungy van.

- Caroline! Oh Drunkzilla, how I love you! Ari Graynor is fantastic and in my opinion, a complete scene-stealer as the loveable boozy mess, Caroline. She perfectly epitomises the messy drunk friend we all know, love and can't manage to stay mad at (except when they vomit on your new shoes/hair/in the taxi). Between locking herself in the Yugo, finding Jesus, drunk-talking someone into giving her a turkey sandwich and even a particularly queasy scene in a subway station, Caroline is definitely good value.

- The Jerk-Offs - Nick's band. I don't think they specified their queer-core-ness, but still so great. They had some of the best banter, and some great on-screen moments. Thom and Dev were totally lovely and even the addition of Lothario (who is basically Hunter from the book ... don't know they changed his name ... odd) rounded out an awesome supporting cast.
- The little details - some of the smallest things were done so well on screen. The artwork in Nick's bedroom cracked me up (though is totally not book-Nick) as Michael Cera's face is so ridiculously goofy.
My favourite, favourite detail was the amazing cover art of Nick's mix CDs for Tris.

my dream is for a boy to make me a mix CD with a super awesome sleeve ♥♥

What's Wrong
- Michael Cera. I'm sorry. I love him, I really do. I am a huge Arrested Development fan. But he was not Nick. He really changed the character and made him supremely awkward. I know he is damn cute, but still I wanted. Sure, he was still funny (awkward funny) and kind of loveable, he wasn't able to capture the charm and spunk of book-Nick. Ahh well, here is smiling Cera anyway:

Which leads me to my next whinge.
- Norah asked Nick! This is not how it works people - Nick is supposed to ask Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. Film Nick is so awkward (thanks Cera), that it would look ridiculous and out of character (as this Nick is like a kicked puppy whining over Tris). Not cool guys, not cool.
- Tris! Oh dear. Book Tris is a kind of irritating scene-queen, but has her moments. You come to love her nd all is good. Movie Tris is awful. I'm sorry, she resembles a lollypop and her "sexy dance" was possibly more awkward than Michael Cera's whole performance in this whole movie. Sorry, no love. I think Juno Temple would have made an awesome Tris.

Actually, she kind of looked like Miley Cyrus at the Teen Choice Awards in this scene ... creepy

Even though there was quite a few plot/scene changes from book to film, I do think the majority of them were justified and lead to a smoother linear narrative on-screen. Overall, the good far outweighed the bad and Sollett and Scafaria were able the sense of fun, excitement and the ever-changing emotions on a charged night out. I'll leave you with a couple of my favourite shots in the final couple of scenes. Enjoy!


Jess said...

Steph, have to say I agree with you on: every. single. point. I love the idea and execution of this feature, can't wait to see more!

kate.o.d said...

my fave scene? when norah screams "let's dance, douchebag!" and sucker-punches nick in the neck.

and my main issue with movie (apart from replacing punk music with indie) is that norah practically begs nick to be her "boyfriend" when we all know it should BE THE OTHER FERKING WAY AROUND. jeez.

Girl Friday said...

Jess - thank you! I really liked putting this together and am looking forward to doing more :)

Kate - I love that part too! I also randomly love the "Englewood, up to no good ...Hoboken, no joking what what".
I totally agree - my theory is because they cast Michael Cera and he is way too awkward that the filmmakers (and audience) couldn't fathom him asking a girl out, thus passing that job to Norah AND IT JUST ISN'T RIGHT.
Seriously, just the fact they switched Nick asking Norah bugs me a ridiculous amount.

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