Hey everybody, great news! Andy Samberg is in a good movie!
Our story focuses on the relationship between Celeste and Jesse. They are high school sweethearts who went on to get married and then, as so often happens, get divorced. Our story picks up six months after their initial separation. The two are still spending most of their waking moments together and live in the same house (although Jesse lives in his art studio which is separated from the main house). This harmony is tested when one of them begins to date.
My parents got divorced the old fashioned way. They shouted, played their kids against one another, and let the bitterness drive their very existence until the divorce was final. Celeste & Jesse Forever, on the other hand, is a movie manual on how sophisticated, modern couples get divorced. Don’t worry, the outcome is more or less the same. Jesse and Celeste have convinced themselves that they cannot only remain civil, but can remain friends. That is, until innate human instincts like jealousy and resentment kick in. This movie is a great exploration of modern relationships and the timelessness of heartbreak.
The material feels fresh and is not a rehash of the thousands of romantic comedies that have come before it. That being said, it can occasionally wade into clichéd waters. Jesse, for example, is out of work and an all around slacker. Celeste, on the other hand, is a go-getter workaholic waiting for Jesse to grow up. Based on that, I bet you expect the male lead to be played by Kevin James, huh? While the set-up has been done before it quickly carves a unique path for itself.
The pair is played by Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg. The casting here is exceptional because the chemistry between the two is immediate and simply wonderful. You believe they have known each other all their lives and that they are destined to be friends forever. It is equally commendable that you don’t know if they should be a couple. This tension is played throughout the entirety of the movie and culminates in a very satisfying way.
The supporting cast is loaded with familiar faces as well. Elijah Wood plays a small role as Celeste’s boss. So, anyone aching to see him reprise his role as an annoying, gay, little hobbit, it is your time to rejoice. I know I am in the minority, but he does nothing for me. Outside of Sin City, I have no use for him. Rob Heubel and Chris D’Elia pop up in smaller but more amusing cameos.
Anyone who has ever lived in Los Angeles will get an extra little Easter egg from this movie as it operates as something of a sarcastic, albeit heartfelt, love letter to the city. It visits all the unique hipster elements of dating in Los Angeles like going on a date with a vegan and having to order off a seaweed menu, meeting at underground dance clubs, all that good stuff.
This movie pulls off something that eludes most romantic comedies; it offered laughs throughout while remaining grounded in real life (not that All About Steve couldn’t have totally happened). So, we must ask if the Laura House rule of a good romantic comedy held true, was I making out? If the woman at the screening who sat next to me wasn’t noshing garlic crackers for the full 90 minutes it totally would have been on!
-Ben Tahija, who went right home after this movie and sloppily made out with his sweetheart