Celeste and Jesse Forever relies too heavily on L.A. stereotypes
Starring Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg. Rating unavailable.
The initially amusing Celeste and Jesse Forever turns out to be mostly about Celeste, a successful L.A. marketing maven well played by Rashida Jones, who also cowrote and coproduced this intriguing, if ultimately uneven, romantic comedy.
Saturday Night Live veteran Andy Samberg plays Jesse, Celeste’s lifelong best bud even as they prepare for divorce after six years of marriage. Their friends, including two who are about to be married (Ari Graynor and Eric Christian Olsen) and a philosophical pot dealer (cowriter Will McCormack), can’t understand why the exes spend all their free time together.
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger, who helmed Adam Scott’s little-seen The Vicious Kind, the new film takes on too many easy targets and hits them too squarely. Do we really need more L.A. inside jokes about vegetarian restaurants, yoga dudes, and teen pop stars? Actually, Ruby Sparks’s Chris Messina is effective as the ostensible sleazeball who first admires Celeste’s prana and then nicely distracts her from neurotic Jesse fixations. But a subplot with Emma Roberts as a budding Britney Spears goes nowhere interesting.
Worse than that, C and J is indifferently framed and shot, and there’s more attention paid to these people’s smoking habits than to the psychosexual problems that are bravely hinted at and then dropped. We are simply told that Jesse is immature and Celeste lives in her head, but the script doesn’t probe far beyond those glib assertions.
Even so, Jones—the daughter of Quincy Jones and The Mod Squad’s Peggy Lipton—makes a strong impression. To portray such a confused and self-absorbed person and still make her likable is a memorable accomplishment. Deeply flawed female characters don’t usually get to carry whole movies. I just wish Celeste had given herself a slightly better one.
Watch the trailer for Celeste and Jesse Forever.