How high would the divorce rate go if they all were as amicable as the one between the title characters in Celeste & Jesse Forever? Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg star as the two former lovebirds whose continued friendship amidst their divorce causes confusion for their friends and, when other potential love interests become involved, the two of them as well.
Jones and Samberg, best known for "Parks and Recreation" and a song about wrapped and bow-tied penises in a box, deliver fine performances in this low-key romantic-comedy-drama that does everything right except make a statement as to why the average moviegoer should give a damn. Celeste & Jesse Forever, which is co-scripted by first-time writers Jones and actor Will McCormack, is fast-paced, harmless and mildly engaging. But it is not a must-see.
In other words, it is yet another well made indie dramedy that lacks a compelling hook.
In fairness, the hook presented is somewhat unique. There are plenty of couples, I'm sure, who get married because they got along but don't work well in married life. Celeste & Jesse Forever explores this dynamic in an entertaining way, even though it never convincingly explains why Celeste and Jesse didn't work as a couple.
That's where the movie struggles. Jones and Samberg have great chemistry together - they have multiple scenes where the two characters giggle maniacally as they stroke a baby corn like a tiny penis, for example - but other than a few vague statements about children and other issues, the movie doesn't offer much to latch onto that would convince audiences that there are others out there that are a better match.
The movie presents romantic alternatives for the title characters, but doesn't convince us that they are suitable replacements. The film does develop Chris Messina's character to a degree where we could believe something is possible between him and Celeste, but even then, the spark doesn't seem to be there. Less can be said for the barely-developed romance between Jesse and Veronica (Rebecca Dayan).
Despite its shortcomings, Celeste & Jesse Forever is a worthwhile endeavor that showcases the writing abilities of Jones and McCormack. There isn't a whole lot to sink your teeth into, but at the very least you'll get to see the nicest divorce proceedings ever captured on film.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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