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Celeste and Jessie Forever - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Celeste and Jessie Forever
Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+

Celeste and Jessie Forever starts off a little clunky, though it's subtle enough that most viewers probably won't notice. We're introduced to each character, and the way they talk, the things they say to each other -- they're amusing but just barely falling short of ringing true to life. It's sort of like the script, co-written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (a debut script for both), is self-consciously trying to avoid contrivance and feeling a little contrived as a result. It's almost Diablo Cody Lite.

Luckily, this only lasts through the beginning scenes, for the most part. Celeste and Jessie have to hit their stride, and they do, thanks to Jones herself as Celeste, and Andy Samberg as Jessie. (Incidentally, McCormack plays the pot dealing friend.) If you're going to have two actors play a divorcing couple who remain best friends, these are the two to pick.

Given how close Celeste and Jessie are as the film opens, six months after they have separated, I kind of would have liked to see how on earth they ended up splitting in the first place. There's one somewhat vague reference to how they used to fight all the time, but now they don't. Of course, that's not the story here. And Celeste actually makes a good point that if they were a gay couple, no one would care: they'd just be friends and everyone would accept it. Why can't straight people have it the same way? But Celeste and Jessie's couple-friends Beth (Ari Graynor) and Tucker (Eric Christian Olsen) think this is just too weird.

We all know we wouldn't have a movie if these two didn't still encounter conflict, though. The difference here is that instead of something threatening their romantic relationship, which is already over, it threatens their friendship. Although in the beginning Jessie still hopes that Jessie will come around and come back to him.

To be fair, they are a lot closer "best friends" than even most normal best friends would be. Jessie is living in the studio behind Celeste's house. And they both feel safe, even if they're not having sex with each other, as long as they're both not seeing anyone else. But finally branching out in this way is inevitable.

Really, this is the story of these two people learning to move on while salvaging their close friendship. This would be a challenge for anyone, and is really an unusually realistic reflection of modern relationships in movies. At its core, this is a comedy, which is kind of a relief: there's not too much sappiness or sentimentality. Even better, there's none of the forced wholesomeness of so many other comedies these days. It's also nice to see a raunchy sense of humor that's actually used subtly -- this isn't a raunch fest; we've had enough of those.

I got some good laughs. You don't expect that in a movie about divorce. At least one that’s not a dark comedy, anyway. These are all good people and you want to root for them, even as both Celeste and Jessie embark on relationships with people who might actually be better for them. That said, the humor is still occasionally hit and miss. It's always nice to see Elijah Wood, but his role here as a gay friend who constantly misfires in his attempts to be "saucy" falls a little flat. To his credit, just like everyone in this movie, he still commits to the part admirably.

Celeste and Jessie Forever is relatively predictable, but even predictability in a worthy story never told has its value. At the very least, it's a pleasant experience from beginning to end, thanks to such winning performances. You kind of want to be friends with all these people. And although the script is its weakest element, pretty much everything else elevates it, with some clever editing and some rather nice cinematography, which are things you don't usually notice in comedies. On the whole this is a good, solid comedy that's well worth seeing.

Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones hash out their differences in CELESTE AND JESSIE FOREVER.

Overall: B+
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