Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Movie Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever

Movie: Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Writer: Rashida Jones & Will McCormick
Cast: Rashida Jones, Andy Sandberg, Emma Roberts, Elijah Wood, Will McCormick, Ari Graynor, Eric Christian Olsen, Chris Messina, & Rebecca Dayan.
One-Line Plot Synopsis: Celeste (Jones) & Jesse (Sandberg) are getting a divorce while also trying to remain best friends.

It’s refreshing to come across a movie that doesn’t follow the same boring formula of a Hollywood movie.  A usual romantic comedy will hit the same 4 or 5 notes every single time.  
  1. Couple falls in love.
  2. Couple falls out of love.
  3. Couple sees other people.
  4. Couple realizes they still love each other.
  5. Couple gets back together.
That’s pretty much the same formulaic outline to every Hollywood romantic comedy that is shoved down the public’s throat these days.  Since that’s really the only thing you can see on a date and those movies aren’t that expensive, Hollywood sees a formula that will make modest profits and assumes that the public enjoys them since they keep going to them.  The fact of the matter is, there’s just nothing out there that puts a different spin on things or tries to tell an interesting and original story unless it’s an independent film…and the reason that it’s an independent film is because it doesn’t follow that basic Hollywood formula in the first place and therefore can't get funding or promotion.  It’s a nauseating cycle that produces mediocre recycles of the same movie, think Katherine Heigl’s entire career save for Knocked Up.
Rashida Jones and Will McCormick worked together to put forth a screenplay that delves into a failed relationship between Celeste and Jesse in which they remain very good friends while they are going through a divorce.  Very similar to how Friends with Kids plays on the nuances and partnership aspects of going through such an important and big part of young adulthood with a best friend, Celeste and Jesse Forever looks at the couple that may be hiding some deeper and poignant emotions under the guise of a great friendship.  The depth that the movie takes into uncovering that is certainly one that has a lot of material to explore and something that can be taken in a multitude of different directions.
The comedic parts of the movie work slightly better than the melodramatic emotional core of the film, probably due to the fact that Jones and McCormick are primarily comedic actors and have surrounded themselves with a handful of other actors whose majority of work experience is based in comedies as well.  Based on Sandberg’s work on SNL and Jones’ in Parks & Rec, there’s almost a 100% chance that most of their funny scenes together were heavily improvisational based (i.e. their first scene at dinner talking over the menu in German accents).  The romantic relationship dynamic between Sandberg and Jones is genuine and believable from both of the characters’ points of views and they have an authentic chemistry on screen that does come off more as best friends than intimate lovers (which actually works for this story and is most likely mirrors their real life friendship). 
There were a couple of scenes where the movie lost me a little when it felt like they were making uncomfortable situations just for the sake of making uncomfortable situations.  In those instances, the over the top awkwardness felt a little forced to me as opposed to the authenticity that was shown earlier in the movie.  Celeste’s relationship with Emma Roberts’ pop star persona felt out of place near the end of the movie and didn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me.  Emma Roberts continues to play the misunderstood teen in the vein of this generation’s Jenna Malone but always seems more one-note than what Malone used to be able convey through her troubled teen characters.  I’m also just not a big fan of her acting (although I’m sure she’s GREAT in We Are The Millers!).
I know that never every character in every single movie is going to be likable but I just wish I sympathized with Celeste a little more than I did by the time this was over.
Rating: 7/10
Side Notes:
  • I still love you Rashida Jones.  So room temp.
  • I think this was the first time in history that a girl named Celeste didn’t turn out to be a 90 year old grandmother.
  • I’m not sure if I’m excited enough for Sandberg’s new TV show, Brooklyn Nine Nine .  Maybe I should get on that.