Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Dec 20th
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

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire