Thursday, February 7, 2013

Celeste and Jesse Forever [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I was first introduced to the talents of Rashida Jones on The Office as she played Karen. I think this was a lot of our first introduction to her. She was hilarious, so I always tried to catch a movie or TV show she was on. I love her as Ann Perkins on Parks and Recreation and usually has a good role in whatever movie she's in. Andy Samberg is another story. I love his group The Lonely Island and followed his career on SNL. He's made a few poor movie choices, but I usually like his humor regardless. I went into this only knowing that these two were in it. I was in for something of a surprise with Celeste and Jesse Forever.

Celeste and Jesse Forever follows the stories of Celeste Martin (Rashida Jones) and Jesse Abrams (Andy Samberg). (I'm glad it followed them or I'd would've been thoroughly confused.) We find out early on, through a photo montage, that they are high school sweethearts and get married young. Celeste is a successful trend analyzer who runs her own company with her partner Scott (Elijah Wood). While Jesse is an unemployed artist, not thrilled about finding work. The two end up being in the middle of getting a divorce, but get along way better than any divorcing couple should. It makes their best friends Beth and Tucker (Ari Graynor and Eric Christian Olsen), who are planning their own wedding, very uncomfortable that they are still like this. Celeste and Jesse dismiss the thought that it's wrong they're best friends still. One day while Jesse is with his friend, and weed dealer, Skillz (Will McCormack), he tells him to start dating again. But Jesse is still in the hopes that Celeste will come back around. One night, Celeste calls Jesse to ask for his help in building an IKEA dresser. Both get frustrated, end up drinking a bottle of wine and ultimately they sleep together. The next morning Celeste tells Jesse it was a mistake and Jesse storms out in a rage. Jesse ends up moving out as Celeste goes on a business trip. Celeste tries to call Jesse a lot, to no avail because Jesse has taken Skillz' advice and begins dating Veronica, a girl he was set up with three months prior. When Celeste gets back Jesse calls her and has news that may change the lives of these former high-school sweethearts forever.

This is a helluva emotional movie. There's a ton of tough topics in this one as this is something I've sort of seen happen with a few couples throughout my life. This is not a comedy, should've done some research before going into this, but this does have some laugh out loud lines and moments. Both shine when these moments do happen, but it's hardly the focus of this movie. We see the transformation of a once loving couple into one that hates what the other is doing in life. The beginnings of regret of sorts before compassion and acceptance sets in. Both Samberg and Jones are superb as Jesse and Celeste. You really get to see the development between both characters and they really hold this movie together. The rest of the supporting actors in Ari Graynor, Eric Christian Olsen, Will McCormack, Emma Roberts, Elijah Wood and Chris Messina, all did well and were decent additions to the film. The character development, especially  for Celeste and Jesse was something I really liked. I got into the characters cause I felt myself thinking about things in my own life this kinda parallels to. The whole idea of making the couple one that isn't truly a couple, but one separating, was a pretty cool touch that I don't think I've seen before. There are drawbacks in this though.

The story, while highly innovative, still follows the flow and groove that romantic comedies always fall into. This is partly saved by the witty, at times, dialogue as well as the emotion poured from it. The plot was pretty original for a romantic-comedy, but nothing too unpredicable. More like it was tweaked, but still followed the same formula. Rom-coms never really stray from this, so it's hard to judge them on following the established "way of doing things." You can tell though that the writers, Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, have been through things like this before and put some of their own feelings and emotions into this. So it could've gone to the abysmal, uninspired writing level that a lot of these types of movies fall into. This isn't a terribly long movie, but there are quite a few unnecessary scenes or ones that drag for too long. I hate it when a decent movie is pulled down by this. Also the subplots with the pop star, played by Emma Roberts, being hated by Celeste (and vice versa) is kinda out of place. As well as showing all the failed dates Celeste does go on. I mean the acting is fine, sure, but I'm not 100% behind them being in the film. The music is pretty good throughout. The cinematography was alright, but they could've done a way better job as they used LA as the main city. LA is a beautiful place, muddled by some of the over excessive emotion in this.

Celeste and Jesse Forever to me is the non-Osacr nominated version of Silver Linings Playbook. Both extremely well written romantic comedies, with humor, emotion and good acting. Both do have their flaws, with this movie it's basic rom-com complaints with unneeded and dragging scenes. Both have awesome lead duos and a great supporting cast. The main difference is one is getting Oscar buzz and nominations, while one people will hardly ever see. It's kinda sad to say but Silver Linings Playbook, for me, was an over-hyped movie that turned out to only be decent. While Celeste and Jesse Forever is one I had no opinion on going into, that turned out to be surprisingly decent.


  1. I first saw Rashida Jones in Freaks and Geeks, as a bully. If you have not seen that show you must. It's so amazing I'm tempted to drive to Arkansas to loan it to you. You have Netflix? It's on there.

    I thought this was better than the average romantic comedy, also enjoyed the music, and really thought she played her role well. When she forgets to hang up her phone and then shit-talks that singer...hilarious. I've done that too many times. A dangerous thing!

  2. Also, as someone who's been with the same person since high school, I thought it was a touching portrayal. You either grow together or grow apart. Fortunately, it worked out for us. But Samberg's character has some arrested development issues, barely can't grow as a couple if one of you doesn't "grow up", so to speak.

  3. Yeah I love Freaks and Geeks. Went though it a couple years ago. I was just saying that for a lot of people The Office was one of her biggest roles people knew her from. Cause Freaks and Geeks never got huge, it's always only had that cult following.

    Also yeah, I think SLP is better than the average rom-com as well. But both ended up being on the same level for me by virtue of how I went into watching both.

    And yeah yeah on the Jesse thing. Though throughout the movie Samberg/Jesse did start to breakout and subsequently wonder if he could, i guess grow up.

  4. Oh good, you've seen it! Yeah, she's really only in one or two episodes I think.
    What made me sad about this movie is that he did eventually change but it took getting that girl pregnant to realize what he needed to do. But I liked that it ended with them remaining friends even though they moved in different directions.

  5. Really enjoyed this film! Nice review..

    Mine can be found below: