Comedies with romance almost always capture the beginning of a relationship. The romantic part is usually a combination of one character trying to get another to go out with them and how much sex the characters have overall. The comedy comes in when one or more of the cast members is assigned some quirky personality traits just so that witty, smart-alec dialogue can be thrown in.
These movies usually aren’t worth the matches to burn the original film, but “Celeste and Jesse Forever” changes everything by actually giving characters personality instead of just personality traits, as well as being a film about the end of a relationship instead of the beginning.
“Celeste and Jesse Forever” follows its title characters, Celeste (Rashida Jones, “Parks and Recreation”), an over-achieving, A-type personality and her estranged best friend/husband Jesse (Andy Samberg, “Saturday Night Live”), a slacker artist trying to pull himself together. Despite filing for divorce, the two are determined to stay best friends until Samberg starts to move on. Jones then has to try to follow his example by dating a string of obnoxious men.
As empty as the plot sounds, it’s pulled off incredibly well by the level of acting Jones and Samberg bring to the table. It’s a Sundance film, so nothing less than the best is to be expected. Jones’ loss isn’t just the loss of a husband, but of a best friend, and her effort to plug the enormous hole created in her life hits that rare spot of being both hilarious and emotional.
Just like an episode of “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” it all comes down to chemistry. Jones and Samberg have some of the best chemistry seen in film for a while, which is emphasized when it’s taken away. They’re the kind of best friends that get each other, and have a million inside jokes only they can understand. Watching both of them have this kind of friendship then deal with losing it will remind almost anyone of a friend or loved one they’ve lost, thus creating a kind of reality through art rarely achieved by mainstream film.
Sundance is famous for existential and deep films, as well as films that could be done on a camcorder and in a wooded area. “Celeste and Jesse Forever” is definitely a film with thought put into it, but not so much as to lose an audience looking for a good laugh. This is definitely a must see for anyone with a soft heart for the one that got away.
“Celeste and Jesse Forever” is currently unrated, but does contain some sex scenes and language not suitable for younger viewers.