Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
Run Time: 1 hour 32 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Will McCormack, Chris Messina
Written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger (The Vicious Kind, December Ends)
At first glance, Celeste and Jesse seem to be the perfect match. They compliment each other, make each other laugh and appear to be the best of friends. Then we learn that they are actually separated and will soon be getting a divorce. In the words of Tina Turner: What's love got to do with it?
Celeste and Jesse Forever stars two actors known more for their comedic abilities: Rashida Jones, best known from shows like The Office and Parks & Recreation, and Andy Samberg, best known as a featured member on Saturday Night Live (having just ended his time there this past season). It's a romantic comedy, but don't hold that label against it.
This story is really about Celeste, a 30-something gal who - like many women - had a very specific vision of their future growing up. Jesse doesn't quite fit the "perfect" mold that she has convinced herself she needs, and years of marriage have resulted in little change.
All of their friends seem confused at Celeste and Jesse's relationship. They make each other happy, what more could they ask for? That's the primary question the film poses. As many of us know first-hand, love is a many splendor things, including complicated.
Rashida Jones creates a fascinating character in Celeste, who seems impermeable. She is a train wreck emotionally, but deflects any semblance of real emotion. She is no damsel in distress, but rather a proud, stubborn, independent woman coming to grips with the idea that the world is beyond her control.
Jones also co-wrote the film, and it's clear that she wanted to portray a side of her that we haven't been able to see in her TV and supporting roles she's held until now. Man is she great here. Samberg is effective and perfectly cast, but the movie and all of its substance rides with Jones, who handles the spotlight brilliantly.
Romantic comedies often get trashed because they are so familiar and worn-out...there's really only two outcomes: They either get together in the end or they don't. Give Celeste and Jesse Forever a lot of credit for working within the defined guidelines of a rom-com, but landing as something fresh and different.
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