Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever

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Rashida Jones is a very appealing performer, but that is stretched way beyond the breaking point in Celeste and Jesse Forever, a title that comes across as a threat. Fortunately, this dud is only about 90 minutes, but almost all of them are painful.

Jones and Andy Samberg are the title pair, a married couple who have separated and filed for divorce, but still maintain a close friendship. He lives in her backyard in a studio, where he lazily plies his trade as an artist. She’s a trend anaylst and highly successful.

Friends are weirded out that they’re still so close, and in the opening scene walk out on them at dinner because of it. This scene seemed completely phony, but then again, I might walk out on a couple that speak to each other in German accents.

Samberg will end up impregnating another woman, while Jones stews, realizing she made a mistake. She tries dating other men, but can’t let her feelings for Samberg go. Meanwhile, there is a stupid subplot involving a teenage pop star (Emma Roberts).

This movie was like fingernails on a blackboard. The script, by Jones and Will McCormick, seems aware of romantic comedy cliches, but then goes ahead with them, like having Jones’ boss being a gay man (Elijah Wood). There are some familiar memes, like the drunken wedding toast (I did laugh when Jones told a joke–“How do you get a nun pregnant? Fuck her,” and then one person laughs and she says, “Thank you, Reverend”). Relationships are portrayed by montages (we even get the old taking pictures in a photo booth) and don’t have the slightest ring of authenticity. Frankly, I don’t know why Jones and Samberg were together, and I don’t why they were breaking up.

Jones works very hard in this picture, being the load bearer, but can’t hold it up. Samberg is really the second banana here, and is completely dull. Why cast a guy known for being a comedian and then have him play a guy who seems to have no personality?

The direction, by Lee Toland Krieger, is also annoying. For some strange reasons many scenes are shot with a handheld camera that seems to be held by someone with palsy. Several times I thought someone in the projection booth must have been knocking around the equipment. Krieger deserves a stint in movie jail for this.

Here’s hoping Jones finds a better outlet for her talent. It would seem screenwriting is not a talent of hers.

My grade for Celeste and Jesse Forever: D.

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

3 responses »

  1. I had been avoiding this and now I’m sure I’ll skip it altogether. Also not surprised to read that Samberg is a bad fit – as I’ve been saying, I think his talent is extremely limited beyond goofy comedy (which he excels at, to be sure).

  2. If you want a good Rashida Jones romantic comedy (and you get to swoon at her singing, I could watch her read a dictionary), then watch Monogamy. It’s by no means a great movie, but sounds, from what I just read, worlds above this one. The leading man is quite good looking, too, so you would believe that they would be together. Not like this poster tries to infer. But like I say, you all always miscalculate what a woman is willing to put up with even from a half-decent-looking ‘adventurer’ who lives in studios in the back yard.

  3. Saw this a couple of weeks ago and liked it a lot better than JS did.

    It had some weak spots (especially in the middle when it seemed to be drifting aimlessly) but I thought it became particularly strong in the final third; it really sharpened its character analysis of Celeste. Admired Jones for exposing her weaknesses as the film progressed when it seemed set up that Jesse was to blame for the relationship failing. And I also liked how Jesse’s relationship with his new partner was played out, had a real feeling of authenticity (as did the ending).

    I’d mark it down slightly from what I would’ve immediately after I saw it as isn’t really memorable – in fact, I was struggling to remember even basic details about it! But it’s still a good film imo. Rating: B-

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