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Film Review : Celeste and Jesse Forever

Sep 02, 2012 10:12AM ● By Justin Buettner

Celeste, a business savvy business owner, tires of waiting for her husband of six years, Jesse, to grow up so the two separate. The catch is both Celeste and Jesse remain best friends who spend all their time together and even remain living at the same house. Things change when Jesse grows tired of waiting to get back together with Celeste and finally begins to date. It isn’t too long before Jesse reveals to Celeste that his new girlfriend is pregnant and the two are engaged. The news shocks Celeste into realizing that she indeed loves Jesse, but is it too late?

Celeste and Jesse Forever is  a well meaning romantic comedy that takes a stab at being different than the average Hollywood Studio romance. Unfortunately the movie never really comes together and long periods of the film simply seem aimless. Like its main characters, the story seems fearful to commit to anything so subplots and supporting characters float in and out of the movie randomly while the tone and meaning of the film shift scene to scene. Even the last scene between the two leads sends mixed messages. It just feels the whole movie was constructed by a crew of people with a phobia of commitment.

The movie was not without a few positives. I did like the cast and thought Rashida Jones did a great job in the lead role. Jones also served as the screenwriter and in the role she did not fare as well. Andy Samberg did great opposite Jones, and Samberg is an actor that I have not liked much in the past. He kept his usual comedy shtick in check playing a more grounded lead in this movie to very good results.

Some scenes are well constructed and provide good laughs or drama. I particularly liked a scene in the final third of the movie where Celeste makes a maid of honor speech, it’s honest and heartfelt and fit nicely with the experience the main character is going through. Unfortunately the movie is not able to string enough of those moments together to work.

Rashida Jones tried to take a different approach to romantic comedies with this script and I give her credit for that. However the first third of the film felt without purpose. It seems to miss any tension or sense of urgency. Once Jesse finds a new girlfriend the pace of the movie intensifies, but the movie tries to cram in way too many conflicting emotional responses from Celeste. By doing this the character of Celeste comes across schizophrenic as she will go from pot smoking stoner drunk who shows up to family parties strung out to the very next scene acting like a confident businesswoman with a control power issue with all the right answers. In the next seen she acts unsure and nervous on a date then in almost the very next seen she will have the upper hand on a date with another guy. It just doesn’t all fit together. The reactions of her friends to her extreme mood swings also seem muted. No one reacts the way a friend would react in this film.

In addition scenes that should carry a lot of dramatic weight comes across as light. In particular several fight scenes between Celeste and Jesse are comically silly and don’t even come close to having the tension they need to make the film work. In fact most of the commonality that the film shows between Celeste and Jesse involves them pretending to masturbate small objects (lipstick and small vegetables) together which comes across more strange than cute or funny.

While the film heavily explores Celeste’s point of view it completely ignores Jesse’s drama of becoming a new father and a husband at the same time. I couldn’t help thinking that the more interesting story actually would have been Jesse’s and not Celeste’s. Gauging how the movie dealt with relationships and the subject of children I would guess the writer doesn’t have a lot of experience with either.

Overall Celeste and Jesse Forever, while certainly not good, is not a horrible movie. It is more of a frustrating movie experience because it easily could have been a much better movie with a stronger director and a better writing team. The cast is likable and the movie does contain a handful of laughs. It reminded me a lot of The Five Year Engagement which was released earlier this year. If you are a fan of romantic comedies there are certainly worse choices, but Celeste and Jesse Forever would be a movie I’d recommend you wait for video as opposed to spending big dollars at the theater.

Films like Celeste and Jesse Forever : The Five-Year Engagement, The Break-Up, and Knocked Up

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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