Sunday, September 16, 2012

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Will McCormick
Lee Toland Krieger
Running Time:
92 minutes

What began as a quirky romantic comedy quickly turned into “The Rashida Jones Show.” Granted, her beauty and accessibility in the character of “Celeste” was captivating, and I didn’t find myself getting bored with the story. “Celeste and Jesse Forever” tells the story of two people trying to remain friends after getting divorced. The problem lies in the fact that they’re amazing as friends, but acknowledge that it’s “weird” for them to still hang out and say “I love you.” Largely autobiographical, Rashida Jones’ co-written screenplay hits close to home for women. Still, there’s enough oddball humor for guys.

As slacker Jesse, Andy Samberg’s signature humor was present in the first 30 minutes – I’ll never look at a small tube of Vaseline or a piece of baby corn the same way again. It’s clear these two have a connection, though their witty banter clearly outweighed their sexual chemistry. The audience is totally unaware that the two are divorced until their friends call them out on being together too much. These friends (Ari Graynor and Eric Christian Olsen) didn’t provide many laughs, perhaps because the leads are the comedic stars.

Comedic relief was definitely present in the couple’s friend Skillz (Will McCormick). With a name like that, you know this dude is a riot. (McCormick co-wrote the screenplay with Jones, so of course he would make his character hilarious.) After eyeing the frozen yogurt hottie, Jesse decides she’s an incentive to get going in the dating world again. Samberg takes on a more serious role after a huge discovery that further distances the two leads.

Celeste’s boss (played by a creepy Elijah Wood) encourages her to date as well, though she rejects every qualified candidate she comes across. It’s obvious she isn’t yet ready for another relationship, so perhaps she’s just looking for something wrong with these men. Though some of them do turn out to be pervs.

The audience isn’t sure if Celeste and Jesse belong together. The plot is very similar to “The Break-Up” – we want them to work it out, we think, but her constant complaining of his immaturity and her condescending attitude toward him makes us think twice. The film does a wonderful job of exploring the dynamic between men and women. It seemed like each time they tried to end things for good, they’d end up snuggling and making out. Do we want the most what we have the least? (The answer is “yes.”)

This was an impressive first screenplay for Jones and McCormick, and a very relatable story for anyone who has tried to “stay friends” after a breakup.

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