Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Blu-ray Review
PictureNick and Norah comes to us presented with the same 1080p High Definition video rendition that's been available in the States for the last few months. Identical in so far as the eye can see, it is an above average but far from great presentation, in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1. Whilst the detail is pretty excellent - particularly in the facial close-ups - some scenes can appear slightly 'misty' and a thin veil of grain can be noticed during some sequences, which, whilst marginally adding to the atmosphere of the more romantic side of this drama, certainly can be a little irritating. The colour scheme is also slightly surreal at times, but this is perhaps intended - and much more successful at giving you that slightly sweet neon- and street-lit New York night setting. Yellows and oranges dominate, interfering slightly with skin tones - making everybody appear to glow - but maybe this is unavoidable, again given the setting. Black levels are quite good, but the aforementioned grain is most apparent in the darker sequences, which does not particularly help given the fact that the entire movie is set at night. It is a decent enough, if far from good, video presentation which - oddly - looks best either in the long shots or the single-character close-ups, with the medium range (two or multiple-character) scenes coming across the worst and exhibiting the most grain.
SoundTo accompany the movie, which largely revolves around a common love of various bands, we get a superior Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix, identical to the previous US release, that really showcases all the song tracks in all their glory. Although the dialogue is ever-important, and gets keen presentation across the frontal array, always coming across clearly and coherently at all the appropriate times, and we get a few nice atmospheric touches - predominantly car and traffic and bustling-crowd-oriented - which offer up some limited surround dynamics, this soundtrack is expectedly dominated by a multitude of song tracks, and as such they are the focal point of the presentation. Songs from little-known indie bands (like The Real Tuesday Weld, Shout Out Louds, We Are Scientists and The Submarines) populate the mix, really taking over at pretty-much any time when there is no dialogue (and, during the live band sequences, often bringing up the rears during the dialogue) and they are clearly the best aspect of this soundtrack, with the 'Nick and Norah theme' popping up occasionally to remind you that there is a little bit of quality score in there somewhere.
ExtrasSimilarly on the Extras front we get all the same extra material as on the US Blu-ray. First up we get a “Telestrator” commentary with the director Peter Sollett and cast members Michael Cena, Kat Dennings and Ari Graynor. What on earth is a 'Telestrator' commentary you may ask, well I guess literally it means this merry bunch of contributors can happily illustrate your telly with digital marker pens whilst you're listening to them chat over the course of the movie. So they doodle on the screen, scrawl over the credits, draw circles around character's faces and so forth, each assigned a different colour to indicate who is drawing (I noticed yellow a lot, which was Dennings' colour). It's a silly gimmick, and its novelty value runs out pretty quickly, but this entertaining bunch make up for the distracting doodling by providing an amusing, anecdotal affair which fans will want to check out. We also get a 'standard' audio commentary provided by the director again, this time accompanied by the authors of the original book Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, along with the screenwriter Lorene Scafaria. This is a much more dry affair, but also much more informative, talking at length about the story concept, characters and real-life situations that evoked this tale.
The Interactive Playlist option is basically a trivia track that permeates the main feature, popping up facts and info into the making of this movie, the score, the characters etc throughout the runtime. CineChat is yet another gimmick. Basically it allows you to instant message other friends who might happen to be watching the movie at the same time as you. Perhaps if everybody in the world had Blu-ray players and everybody was forced to stay at home because the world was infected by some plague you might convince your friends to watch the same film as you at the same time but from different houses, and instant message each other feverishly throughout, but personally, I prefer them just to come over for a movie. That's what sofas are for.
A Nick and Norah Puppet Show by Kat Dennings is a five minute summing up of the movie involving some cardboard cut-out characters being shuffled around and voiced by Kat. It's pretty silly, and involves a bear, but is also quite quirky and in-line with the main feature. Ari Graynor's Video Diary: A Look Behind-the-Scenes is also thankfully brief, lasting just four minutes and consisting of extremely poor camcorder footage of the actors on set goofing around. Aside from a couple of vaguely amusing moments it is largely pointless and far too random. There are also two storyboard animations with optional commentary by the director and the editor Myron Kerstein, who discuss both the opening sequence and the moment when Nick and Norah first meet.
There are nine deleted/alternate scenes. The alternates are pretty identical to the final versions used and involve multiple line takes which are just plain tiresome. You will most likely have your finger at the ready on the skip button for many of the offerings here (there are only so many times you want to hear the cleaning lady say 'hell no') and I can honestly say that you are probably better off not bothering with this extra footage. Oddly the four minutes of outtakes aren't all that different from the alternate takes, other than in the fact that the actors crack up because they cannot remain serious. Some of the moments are vaguely funny, but there's nothing here to really write home about.
We get a Faux Interview with Michael Cera, Kat Dennings and Eddie Kaye Thomas, which lasts just three minutes and has the three participants doing all you would expect in a normal interview except mocking themselves a little. Mildly amusing, but also thankfully brief. Rounding off the disc we get the director Peter Sollett's Photo Album, and the music video “Middle Management” by Bishop Allen.
VerdictNick and Norah is quite a sweet romantic comedy for the modern generation, charting a nice tale of love and relationships in the Big Apple, and populated by a bunch of familiar faces (and familiar-ish characters) from the universe spawned by Judd Apatow. On UK Blu-ray the video and audio are identical to those on the earlier US release - decent if unexceptional, the movie's many songs offering up the technical high points on the latter. Extras are also identical - plentiful but largely misguided, with only the commentaries and trivia track really proving worth your time. Overall it's worth picking up if you fancy a more romantic variation on films like Superbad and Knocked Up, otherwise give it a rental first to see if you like it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.49
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