Saturday, September 22, 2012

Celeste & Jesse Forever: Movie Review


A new take on a sweet and funny romantic comedy overtaken by unlikable characters.
Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are best friends forever. They dated in high school then they got married and they love each other more than anything else in the world. Now they’re getting divorced. It’s a romantic comedy type story told backwards, kind of. It’s not about how Celeste and Jesse fell in love, it’s about how they’re going to move on. 2012

Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger

Screenplay by: Rashida Jones, and Will McCormack

Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg

Left to Right: Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg).
Photo by Lee Toland Krieger, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Independent romantic comedies are always better than Hollywood romantic comedies, so this has the decent set-up and follow-through and various obstacles in Celeste and Jesse’s way for comedic purposes. It is sweet and fairly funny. However, it could lose its audience before it gets to the romantic ending.

What “Celeste & Jesse Forever” needs is likable characters. It doesn’t have any. Celeste is an egotistical, hate-filled, pseudo-intellectual with a serious superiority complex. She insults everybody she meets with snappy, trendy lines devaluing their entire lives. We don’t get to know Jesse nearly as well as we get to know Celeste. He’s presented as a lazy, self-involved free-loader who makes rash decisions for self-pleasure. But it’s hard to say if that really is what Jesse is like, or if that is just how Celeste described him to us.

Left to Right: Beth (Ari Graynor) and Tucker (Eric Christian Olsen).
Photo by David Lanzenberg, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Their best friends, all played by intriguing actors, were only there to further our comprehension of Celeste and Jesse’s relationship. They weren’t complete characters for us to like or get to know. Celeste’s potential suitors were immediately painted as good and decent guys, whom I would have been happy to spend more time with. But Celeste’s constant self-obsession didn’t leave much room for anybody else.

The make-up and costume department did a great job – there was a Halloween scene where I knew which characters were dressed up as which celebrities before the script told me. Small moments of humour like that are appreciated.

Celeste’s smarter-than-everybody-else attitude was played up for laughs towards the end, including one great line by Emma Roberts as a pop culture-embodying celebrity. She could have been likable but wasn’t introduced until later on in the film and was way under-used.

“Celeste & Jesse Forever” was in desperate need for likable characters, and although they eventually gave a reason for animosity towards them, it was too little too late. We needed likable characters. Celeste was far from likable and Jesse might not have even been a real character.


The Break-Up (2006) - "The Break-Up" pulls emotion in the right way and right amount.

Rid of Me (2011) - A bleak character study encompassing the best and discomfort of a dark comedy.