In an attempt to spotlight a scene related to post-Thanksgiving leftovers, I'd like to share a favorite little moment from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. No, the teen rom-com doesn't directly connect to the holiday in any way, but there is this scene starring a turkey sandwich. And my brain and stomach being the odd collaborators that they are have deemed it appropriate, even if the sandwich is made of cold cuts and not turkey carved from a juicy, roasted whole bird.

Here's one reason it makes sense to my personal post-Thanksgiving activities: while many of you will be braving the crowds at the multiplex following your feast, I'll be at the bar -- hopefully one where I can dance some of the stuffing away -- and at last call, I'll tipsily head home and then stack some leftovers between two slices of bread and enjoy the first of many post-holiday turkey sandwiches.
Isolated from the rest of the film, I can pretend this little scene takes place on Thanksgiving night. Poor drunken Caroline (Ari Graynor) is lost and without money and all she wants is to get home and eat a turkey sandwich. She ends up at Port Authority where she encounters a mute food service worker (Kevin Corrigan) on his break, about to eat ... a turkey sandwich. After she adorably tells her heartbreaking story of being abandoned and kidnapped, the man reluctantly offers his food to her.

There are plenty of things I love about the scene. Ari Graynor's endearing performance as the drunk friend is terrific throughout the film, a welcome contrast to cinema's usual, contemptuous treatment of such a character. Here she is her most charming, though. Her smile, the way she talks about her friend Norah and especially the way she says "hi" to the sandwich, it's all enough to forget the primary, title characters (played by Michael Cera and Kat Dennings) for a bit.

Then there's Corrigan as her silent and charitable new friend. The actor is one of my all-time favorite scene stealers, from such films as Walking and Talking, Buffalo '66, Pineapple Express and many indie films throughout the last 20 years. In Nick and Norah he proves once again -- as he did long ago as the gum-chewing, pompadoured young mobster in True Romance -- that he doesn't need any dialogue to make an impact. The moment he appears on screen I start grinning. Who needs a face as expressive as his to be supplemented with speech?

In a way the scene calls to mind a similar moment I love involving a hot dog vendor in Adventures in Babysitting. And that should dampen my appreciation in some way, but instead it heightens it. The characters played by Graynor and Babysitting's Penelope Ann Miller are in analogous situations, yet the contexts are different enough. Plus,it gives me hope that Graynor will go on to better things, as did Miller following that breakthrough role -- though I wish Graynor better luck (and no career-scarring relationship with Al Pacino).

categories Features, Cinematical