The story revolves around a group of teens but the film plays well to the post-teen crowd too.
Nick (Michael Cera) was recently dumped by his girlfriend (Alexis Dziena), who unbeknownst to him has been cheating for most of their six-month relationship. He is single-handedly reviving the mix tape as a form of expression but the only one listening is Norah (Kat Dennings), a girl he's never met. Nick and his gay band mates (Aaron Yoo and Rafi Gavron) have a gig on the same night a popular band is holding a secret concert somewhere in the city. As everyone teams up to find the secret location or a runaway drunk girl (Ari Graynor), Nick and Norah find themselves on an exploration of self-discovery.
The dialogue is witty and the characters are not cookie-cutter. Norah is smart, strong and very caring; while Nick is also smart but scared and sometimes stupid. Two of the best characters are Nick's best friends and band mates, Dev (Gavron) and Thom (Yoo). They look out for him, Norah and anyone else they take under their wing. It's not only sweet, but amusing too.
The story unfolds over just one day and night which works really well. As fun and adventurous as the film is, it is never strikingly unrealistic. The words, “that could never happen,” never leap to mind. On the contrary, it just seems like the best night of a high school senior’s year.
The most talked about element in this film was the soundtrack. And it lives up to its reputation. It sets the mood or just fills the background. In any case, the tunes, featuring Vampire Weekend and Bishop Allen, are very indie, very cool and very good.
The DVD special features are numerous. In addition to a digital copy of the film, there are two audio commentaries with director Peter Sollett, Cera, Dennings and Graynor on one and Sollett, screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, and source authors Rachel Cohn David Levithan on the other. There are nine deleted and alternate scenes but most of them are not great. The outtakes are okay as is the behind-the-scenes diary by Graynor. However, two of the funniest bonus features are a faux interview between Cera, Dennings and Eddie Kay Thomas, and “A Nick and Norah Puppet Show” by Dennings, which is hilarious. The DVD also includes a music video from Bishop Allen.