Nick and Norah: Not Your Average Teens

By Elissa Strauss

Published October 02, 2008, issue of October 10, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

After seasons of mostly vapid teenage characters dominating the screen, big and small, Kat Dennings bucks the trend with her role in the movie “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” in theaters October 3.

COMING-OF-AGE: Michael Cera and Kat Dennings star in the film.
COMING-OF-AGE: Michael Cera and Kat Dennings star in the film.

Dennings plays Norah Silverman, a feisty high-school senior music fan whose all-nighter in Manhattan with new love interest Nick (Michael Cera who last year starred in the hits “Superbad” and “Juno”) evolves into a coming-of-age tale. Based on the young adult novel by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, the film, directed by Peter Sollett, presents an alternative portrait of your average Jewish American Princess. Norah, who is more “My So-Called Life” than “Gossip Girl,” shuns fashion in favor of flannel shirts, considers deferring her Brown University enrollment to work on a kibbutz, and tries to avoid the fame and attention she receives as a result of her big macher record producer father.

Though the movie adaptation left out some of the book’s Jewish components (the Forward itself makes an appearance in the novel, though not the film, as substitute for porn for Norah’s Israel-obsessed ex-boyfriend), Norah’s role as the anti-JAP remains. In both the book and the film, her explanation of tikkun olam serves as a pivotal moment. The concept of healing and putting pieces back together becomes a metaphor for true human connection, something these almost-adults are just beginning to learn.

Dennings, who is Jewish in real life and known for her other no-nonsense roles, like the unglamorous feminist in the recently released film “The House Bunny,” has said that this character is more like herself than any parts she has played in the past. Good thing, considering her only other Jewish role was her cameo as the bratty, pushy bat mitzvah girl on HBO’s “Sex and the City.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.