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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts
DIRECTED BY
Lee Toland Krieger
SCREENPLAY
Rashida Jones, Will McCormack
MPAA RATING
Rated R
RUNNING TIME
91 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Sony Classics
DVD EXTRAS
Two audio commentaries; "Making of" featurette; Premiere w/Q&A; Outtakes; Bloopers
 "Celeste and Jesse Forever" a Romantic Comedy That Isn't Particularly Funny 
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Celeste and Jesse Forever is a not particularly funny romantic comedy.

That's incredibly refreshing.

Celeste and Jesse Forever is the kind of film that will resonate emotionally far more than you might expect, though it's highly unlikely that you'll leave the theater thinking to yourself "Wow, I was really entertained." It's not a particularly entertaining or funny film, but it's a film that works because both Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are characters you grow to care about even when they aren't sympathetic. The two play lifelong best friends who are married but getting a divorce while still planning to remain best friends.

Got that?

It's like the ultimate amicable divorce, though it doesn't ever feel like it's for particularly solid reasons and, as audience members, it becomes increasingly difficult to buy into the divorce because Celeste and Jesse are so good together, both because they work together as characters and because Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg have a delightfully playful and emotionally satisfying chemistry together.

The two even plan to live essentially together, she in the house and he in the studio. It makes perfect sense to them, though their friends, including Tucker (Eric Christian Olsen) and Beth (Ari Graynor), are having a much harder time with it.

If it sounds like all of this could be played for laughs, you're absolutely correct. It could be played for laughs, and while there are laughs to be found here it's actually quite surprising how much drama there is to be found in Celeste and Jesse Forever. It's not surprising that Rashida Jones can pull this film off, but it's a tad surprising just how satisfying Andy Samberg is here as an under-achieving graphic artist who seems destined to be outshined by his Type A wife and soon to be best friend.

Celeste and Jesse Forever is the kind of romantic film that has difficulty finding an audience, because it avoids all the usual romantic cliche's one finds in most romantic films and it's not nearly fluffy enough to be considered a traditional rom-com. Thats really quite a shame, because Celeste and Jesse Forever deserves to find its cinematic place in the world even if it does exist squarely between greatness and mediocrity. In other words, Celeste and Jesse Forever is a good film with a good story and good characters with good performances across the board.

Rashida Jones co-wrote the script with Will McCormack, and you get the sense that she's lived and breathed inside the character of Celeste. Jones's Celeste is a Type A control freak with a streak of humanity that makes her more endearing than irritating, while Samberg's Jesse is your typical passive passenger in life who is likely talented enough to make more out of his life but also easygoing enough to wait for it all to happen.

It may. It may not.

Among the supporting players, Eric Christian Olsen and Ari Graynor are fine as best friends, while Emma Roberts has a nice turn as a rather irritating teen queen type and Elijah Wood also has a nice turn as a buddy of Celeste's. Will McCormack, who co-wrote the script with Jones, has an excellent brief appearance as a pot dealer.

I hate that it feels almost inevitable that Celeste and Jesse Forever will likely be not much more than an afterthought at the box-office, a film that doesn't quite catch on because it's simply too difficult to define. One can only hope the indie crowd gives it a chance, because Rashida Jones does top notch work here and Andy Samberg shows a previously unseen depth of acting that makes it incredibly likely he'll latch onto a far lengthier movie career than anyone could have predicted.

Celeste and Jesse Forever is currently on a run through the arthouse and indie circuit with distrib Sony Classics, and if it lands at a theater near you it's definitely a film worth taking a chance on.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
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