Entering the Kat’s Den

Ignore "Nick and Norah" at your own risk; the thin teen and the voluptuous vixen are involved in life's little mysteries that would have had William Powell and Myrna Loy detecting a similarity to their own clandestine coups.

William Powell? Myrna Loy? Put that on your playlist and see where it gets you.

These days, it's getting Michael Cera and Kat Dennings plenty of playtime on screen and off, as the somewhat odd couple of young icons star in "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist," opening in the region this Friday.

A postmodern "Thin Man" for the phat crowd? Hardly: While "The Thin Man" series was a rave on screen in the '30s and on TV in the '50s, they never did make the rave scene as these two do.

Party hardy: But, then, the Hardy Boys would hardly be the naif navigators they were in days of old.

Nothing old about this "Nick and Norah": "Playlist" is all playing to the teen and young-20s crowd, who'll probably be jamming box offices to see Cera and Dennings lock destinies and lips as teens in teeming New York, making discoveries between sunset and sunrise that Tevye's Chava never had a chance to do.

Is this the little girl who carried herself into my office just seven years ago at age 15? Yes it is, and at 22, Dennings, the Bryn Mawr beauty, has given more than lip service to the career she said she wanted early on — with fans and critics stung by her bee-lip beauty — she's gone out and become a queen of cuties.

Her personal myspace.com is no spacey-snarled site cyberspace seems relegated to too often by the young at heart and immature of mind; well, indeed, there is no room for her personal myspace at all. As she succinctly says on her own site (www.katdennings.com), Kat nips: "Anyone saying they are Kat Dennings is a dirty fraud. Do not be fooled by these hoodlums."

No one's fool, Dennings' official site, which links to her youtube.com file, is tubular: clever, quick, a self-effacing sensation served up by the face of the new millennium.

Kat's corner of the world squares with the way she's always seen things — ever since her breakout role as a Bat Mitzvah twit with a mouth that soap would run from in an early edition of the less than 99 and 94/100 percent pure "Sex & the City."

When You're Hot …

The erstwhile Katherine Litwack lit up screens after that "Hot Child in the City," which was so torrid it caused firecrackers of controversy, notably from reporters with short fuses, "who questioned my morals."

She answered with a poise and purpose more pertinent to a much-more-sophisticated siren-to-be, setting off appreciative applause rather than alarms.

After all, it has been two decades since the kittenish Kat first declared, at age 2, "this is what I want to do," and the commercials and TV work started flowing.

Raised Jewish, the former star of TV's "Raising Daddy" — with esteemed former Philadelphian Bob Saget — has never been one to raise hell. As for those raves raging on in the movie, she's never been to one outside reel time.

"Not in my life," she says with a roll of the oys in her voice.

Hoping young audiences will say yes to Norah, producers got a major hechsher from the hip crowds at the Toronto Film Festival, where "Playlist" played out as a hot ticket.

Now opening during the High Holidays, the film highlights Norah's Jewish roots, with the proudly Jewish Dennings rooting on the portrayal. "Her ethnicity," declares Dennings of Norah Silverberg, "informs a lot of who she is," as does her heritage help define who Dennings dares to be.

Her blissful blogs are just a blip of the screen career the actress savors after roles in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Raise Your Voice," "Big Momma's House" — her own big momma is the delightful Ellie Litwack, known for her poetry — "Charlie Bartlett" and "The House Bunny," reproducing a clatter of acclaim from critics.

Dennings' long career continues with the upcoming "Shorts," directed by Robert Rodriguez, and "The Dream of the Romans."

Her Bryn Mawr dreams are soldiering on in the meantime. "It is a dream [career], but I never aspired to fame," she says.

Fame and fortune have followed her, nevertheless, from Bryn Mawr — as has her retinue of friends. "I still have the same friends from Philly as when I was a youngster," she reveals.

As her character shares the screen with Cera's, Dennings herself shares Norah's … niceness: "She's intelligent and vulnerable," the actress may as well be saying to a mirror.

Indeed, the character's little speech in the film about the importance of tikkun olam reflects Dennings decisions as Jewish denizen. And, after all is said and done — and danced to — isn't it romantic? "I like that she's Jewish; you don't see it that often in young female roles where the character is defined as such."

Her career is right on in a literary way, too, as Dennings has written a script with her brother and is already in talks about production. And her early admission that she wanted to go to college … "Well, you never rule that out."

As she's set to rule screens this weekend, a little bit of Norah roars into the big picture as the 22-year-old rocks with a request she'd like to see fulfilled, as the aspiring star sighs about the man who fell to earth.

"I'd love to meet David Bowie." Kat pauses. "And I want him to give me a big kiss!"



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