Review of Celetse and Jesse Forever at Sundance 2012 - Rashida Jones shines in clever twist on the relationship comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever.
Midway into the inside-out relationship comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever, about two hip Angelinos so laidback they stick together as friends even after their divorce, Rashida Jones goes full slapstick via long drags on an oversized water pipe, non-stop snacking and such a total disregard for fashion that someone calls her “cat lady.”
For Celeste and Jesse Forever, which Jones co-wrote with Will McCormack, there’s nothing the sitcom star and popular actress won’t do for a laugh.
Telling a relationship story familiar to underemployed men everywhere, Celeste (Jones) is a successful trends analyst who co-owns her own company and Jesse (Andy Samberg) is an artist barely earning pennies. Their maturity gap is as wide as their income gap so it’s no surprise that they separate over different goals in life.
Actually, Celeste and Jesse Forever spins on the comic premise of someone telling their ex they're moving forward but acting like nothing has changed — including going on dates together and continuing to live in the same house.
The dramatic bounce in the comedy, which Sony Pictures Classics acquired for release soon after its debut in the premieres section of the Sundance Film Festival, occurs when Jesse re-starts a relationship with an old girlfriend and Celeste tells her ex she’s happy he's moving on with his life but she really doesn't mean it. Someone, sometime soon, has to budge.
Emma Roberts brings extra laughs to the film as one of Celeste’s celebrity clients, a bratty pop star with boyfriend problems.
Ari Graynor and Chris Messina provide light-hearted support as friends to Celeste and Jesse who doesn't understand the post-divorce friendship.
While his character of Celeste’s saucy gay friend and business partner feels pulled out of an old rerun of Will & Grace, Elijah Wood is still plenty funny and rises above his material.
Andy Samberg is something of a renaissance comic thanks to his work in stand-up, his sketch work on Saturday Night Live and his comedy albums with his group The Lonely Island. Samberg offers nothing new in Celeste and Jesse Forever. His performance is just an easygoing variation on the wiseacre personality fans have come to love. Still, Samberg suits the film perfectly, complements Jones well, and makes a believable creative more interested in art than a paycheck.
Jones appears to be everywhere these days from the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation to big-screen supporting roles (The Social Network, The Muppets) but she manages to surprise in Celeste and Jesse Forever as an attractive, successful woman capable of anything but admitting she's wrong.
Director Lee Toland Krieger, who last directed the independent sibling drama The Vicious Kind, allows some of the storytelling to come off as cliché, like Celeste’s depressive downfall after Jesse leaves her.
Thankfully, just when the movie starts to flounder, Jones unloads a fantastic scene like a brilliantly awkward speech at her best friend's wedding.
Celeste and Jesse Forever may be a relationship comedy but everything that’s special about it goes back to the girl. Funny, that perfectly mirrors the theme of the movie.
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Screenwriter: Rashida Jones, Will McCormack
Cast: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Chris Messina, Ari Graynor, Emma Roberts and Elijah Wood
Producers: Envision Media Arts, Team Todd
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Cinematographer: David Lanzenberg
Editor: Yana Gorskaya
Music: Sunny Levine and Zach Cowie
Running Time: 91 minutes
Release Date: TBD