Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Writers: Rashida Jones & Will McCormack
After years of friendship and marriage Celeste and Jesse are getting divorced. She stayed in the house and he is living in the guesthouse in the backyard, but don’t worry they’re still best friends much to the bewilderment of those around them. It seems that even though they don’t want to be together anymore they just can’t give each other up. The curveball in the story comes early but only after establishing what looks like a really great relationship. “Why would these two be splitting up?” you wonder early on.
The question of why these two would be getting divorced is a testament to the wonderful chemistry between the two lead actors. Rashida Jones, who has done supporting work on television shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation, stars as Celeste, a slightly neurotic and driven trend analyzer who is publishing a book while running a media PR Company. Much like Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel, Jones also co-wrote the screenplay and, like many of the best comedies of recent years, the double duty pays off. It seems that if you can’t find a great role you have to write it for yourself.
Jesse is played by Saturday Night Live and The Lonely Island alum Andy Samberg. He has been making the transition to movies ever since “Lazy Sunday” hit it big on SNL but this marks the first big somewhat dramatic role and he handles it well. You can see where Celeste is coming from in terms of their floundering relationship, much of the problems seem to stem from him being a somewhat irresponsible and lazy unemployed artist, but Samberg still makes the character charming and likeable. The relationship between the two is so comfortable that it seems as though they really have been together for a decade.
When the movie strays from the main relationship and into some of the sub plots it does flounder a little. Celeste has a story line in which she is working to promote a Ke$ha like pop star named Riley Banks played by Emma Roberts. This sub plot seems to exist solely to have Celeste talk about how dumb pop stars are. Justin Bieber and Britney Spears jokes? That is the best we can do? Nothing about this felt novel or clever to me and instead just grated. We have these interesting and smart characters and resorting to making fun of something that has been made fun of for so long already just felt lazy.
Slight misstep aside Celeste and Jesse Forever is a mature and realistic take on a modern romantic relationship. Unlike a movie like 500 Days of Summer with its vapid manic pixie dream girl barely-there character, the movie that most people will probably unfairly compare Celeste and Jesse to, Celeste and Jesse Forever has a maturity and realism to it and is still funny, entertaining, and insightful. What could have been a soulless romantic comedy is turn into more by the stylish directing, good soundtrack, and most of all the strong lead performances.