Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Apr 18th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Unwedded Bliss

film celestejesseBreaking up is hard to believe in otherwise funny, engaging ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’

It's a premise you could only find in the movies. A couple of hip, young thirtysomethings, Celeste and Jesse, are longtime best buds; they go everywhere together, lapse into jokey accents and game-playing, consistently crack each other up—and after six years of marriage, they're in the process of getting a divorce.

OK, people change, but that's not the weird part: they continue to live life joined at the hip, seeing the same friends, cracking the same jokes, enjoying themselves and each other hugely. Um, why exactly are these guys getting divorced?

That's the big question in Celeste and Jesse Forever. The short (and obvious) answer is, to create conflict so the scriptwriters will have something to write about. Answering this question within the context of the story itself, however, is not quite so easy, and causes some problems for writers Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, who also act in the film. Still, beyond its romantic complications, Jones' and McCormack's script is so funny and their characters so engaging, it's well worth suspending one's disbelief.

Directed by Lee Toland Krieger, the film introduces pert, motivated Celeste (Jones); a borderline Type-A personality leavened with a wacky sense of humor, she's a "trend-spotter" with an L.A. PR firm. A critic of junky pop culture (she's just written a book on the subject called "Shitegeist"), she is nevertheless employed in the business of keeping the firm's famous clients in the forefront of it. Jesse (Andy Samberg), her best friend since high school, and husband of six years, is a good-natured slacker with artistic leanings who would rather go catch a wave than follow up a lead on an illustrator's job.

That's it for conflict. ("He doesn't even have a checking account," Celeste complains to a girlfriend. "Or dress shoes.") They claim they used to fight all the time, but now that divorce is pending and Jesse has moved into his studio in the backyard of their house, they're getting along better than ever—to the point that their best friends (Ari Graynor and Eric Christian Olsen) are seriously weirded-out by their ongoing co-dependence.

Celeste's boss (a droll Elijah Wood) and Jesse's weed-dealing buddy, Skillz (co-scripter McCormack) urge them both to date other people and move on. Jesse is daunted at the prospect of "starting over," and Celeste considers herself too busy, but once one of them gets set up on an impromptu date, it becomes a kind of competition, in which they both feel they have to keep up. But when one of them gets serious about someone else, everything changes, and Celeste and Jesse face the consequences of really letting go.

But because it never feels like there's anything inherently toxic about the couple's relationship or inevitable about their split, the writers are hard-pressed to make their choices make sense from scene to scene. (Ultimately, they have to introduce a pregnancy subplot to up the stakes, which always feels a bit forced.) Once this monkey wrench has been thrown in, however, the writers are persuasive in showing how much love, friendship, and dreams depend on timing as Celeste and Jesse struggle to adjust and grow in the same direction at the same time.

Meanwhile, the satire on pop culture is often hilarious. A horrified Celeste has to promote vacant teen pop idol Riley Banks (Emma Roberts), whose repertoire includes the song "Do It On My Face." ("She's like a vagina and a hair-do!" wails Celeste.) Her caustic one-liners and the deadpan goofy sweetness of Samberg's Jesse keep things in high gear throughout. (Jones is particularly funny as Celeste turns to running, yoga, alcohol, a gigantic bong, and eating binges to fill up the hole in her life.)

Better still, scribes Jones and McCormack draw the peripheral characters with just as much sympathy and humor as the leads. Chris Messina is great as a yoga classmate Celeste tries to dismiss with a few withering remarks who turns out to be surprisingly simpatico. film celesteAnd even the dreaded Riley has the wit to accuse Celeste of "contempt before investigation," before turning into an unexpected friend. Best of all, there's no pat resolution to the story—in which respect Celeste and Jesse is refreshingly like real life.

CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER

★★★ (out of four) Watch film trailer >>>


With Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Will McCormack, and Emma Roberts.
Written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack. Directed by Lee Toland Krieger.
A Sony Classics release. Rated R. 91 minutes.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.