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Celeste and Jesse Forever

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Released 7 December 2012
Director Lee Toland Krieger

Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Emma Roberts, Elijah Wood
Writer(s) Rashida Jones, Will McCormack

Lee Nelson, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Rodd
Origin United States
Running Time 92 minutes
Genre Comedy, drama, romance
Rating 15A

And always.

It's a dangerous avenue to go down when you try to both adhere to the expectations of a particular genre's audience but also tweak the narrative in such a way that appears witty, different, out there or evolving. Rashida Jones valiantly attempted to achieve this in her co-written Celeste and Jesse Forever, yet the end product results in a formulaic romantic comedy that neither insults too much nor has you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

Jones plays late twenties Celeste, married to childhood sweetheart and best friend Jesse (Adam Samberg). Having spent most of each other's lives in one another's pockets, it comes as a surprise when Celeste asks for a divorce, citing Jesse's lack of ambition as the primary reason. Given the fact he's unemployed and evidently lacking ambition, I'd say that's probably fair enough. But after they are forced to date new people, Celeste grows jealous of Jesse's new relationship, which becomes a quest for life discovery when she finds out about his pending fatherhood with new girlfriend Veronica. Rather than trying to break up the happy family, which is part of where the story is trying to be “different” from your run of the mill rom-com, she goes on an amusing, confusing search for her true self.

In all honesty, it's not that good. For some reason or another, over the course of the last couple of years I have grown a soft spot for this kind of film, perhaps because there have just been some pretty darn decent ones made. I fully expected to enjoy the quirky nature of this flick and was intrigued to see how the chemistry developed between Jones, who is generally solid, and The Lonely Island's Samberg. To put it simply, their rapport will go down well with some and abysmally with others – marmite at its finest.

Jones plays the distressed, midlife crisis has come too early, Celeste with a great degree of passion, which you would expect given that the project was her baby, but some of the subplots are infuriatingly annoying. Top of the pops is a maturing friendship between Celeste and a teen music star she has just signed for her media company. Not funny, not funny at all. And while understandable that Samberg wants to break away from his comical and over the top antics with his rap group, it was a little disappointing to see him in such a reserved role – although to say he didn't portray his character well would be unfair.

There's nothing particularly offensive about Celeste and Jesse Forever, but quite little that's inspiring either. It tried hard to be more true-to-life than other rom-coms – especially with its ending – but in a lot of ways it's just the opposite.

- David Caulfield