Cera pigeonholed into charming nerd role

While charming, this 'Playlist' has been on repeat too long.


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Although Michael Cera has been around since his stint on "Arrested Development," not a whole lot of attention was paid to him until last year's "Superbad." Cera's banner year continued with his portrayal of the dorky Paulie Bleeker in "Juno," and since then he has become the boy that girls want to be with.

In "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," he once again plays the earnest, awkward but somehow charming music geek. While he plays this role very well, I can't help but feel like I've seen this before.

It has become the norm for Michael Cera to play the same stereotypical roles over and over. While I can't deny that it is sort of endearing, it is also getting old. He seems to be stuck in a rut, albeit a rut that pays well and brings adoring fans back again and again. Perhaps he could go on playing this same type, but with this latest attempt dropping a few rungs below its predecessors on the quality ladder, it might be time to start looking at different genres of scripts.

That being said, the audience automatically feels sorry for Cera as a high school senior who hasn't had the best luck in love. Nick (Cera) has been dumped by Tris (Alexis Dziena) and has been coping with his grief by making her mix CDs and leaving them on her porch. Tris throws the mixes away, only to have them picked up by Norah (Kat Dennings), who is infatuated with their unknown creator.

The two finally meet at one of Nick's band's gigs when Norah approaches Nick, and asks him to be her boyfriend for five minutes so Tris will stop taunting her. Also at the concert is Norah's best friend Caroline (Ari Graynor), a belligerent drunk, who is the cause of most of the laughs (and cringes from her disgusting drunk behavior) in the movie. After seeing that Norah needs help dealing with Caroline, Nick's bandmates decide that this is the perfect opportunity to help Nick get over Tris. They offer to take Caroline home so Nick and Norah can have a better chance of getting to know each other.

The pair gets this chance in front of the amazing backdrop of New York City at night, where they decide to search for the elusive band Where's Fluffy, which is notorious for saying it will be playing somewhere and then having another band go on in it's place. But this task is sidetracked when Caroline goes missing, forcing the couple to track her down.

This movie isn't as funny as "Superbad" or as quirky-sweet as "Juno," but that doesn't mean that it isn't worth seeing. Go, if only to fall in love with the soundtrack (though a simple trip to the iTunes store will suffice for that), or to watch the drunken antics of Caroline, a character everyone can probably recognize as someone in his or her group of friends. The plot moves along, stalling slightly at times to incorporate several subplots. And though the dialogue is sometimes a bit too witty as to be believable for any normal people, it is always engaging.

This movie should have stuck with simply being a fun romantic romp through New York City, and, for most of the film, it was. But when the end of the movie rolls around, the whole tone suddenly changes. The writers apparently decided that they needed the movie to be deep and to mean something, and their attempt stuck out like a sore thumb. There is no rule written down that commands all movies to have a thought-provoking ending, and this movie would have been better served by simply trying to be entertaining.

Bottom line:  Go see this movie if a) you are in the mood for an enjoyable, lighthearted romantic comedy, b) have a sick fascination with music, all music, any music, or c) on Facebook, your last name is listed as "Cera."

Rating: 3/5

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