Celeste and Jessie Forever

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Posted September 1, 2012 by in

Rating

Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

1.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: chick flick
 
Director: Rashida Jones
 
MPAA Rating: R
 
Actors: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood
 
Length: 92 minutes
 
Release Date: 8/3/2012
 
Studio: Envision Media Arts, Team Todd, PalmStar Entertainment (in association with), The Bridge Finance Company
 
 
What We Thought

The dreaded “chick flick”—and a bad one at that.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
No amount of sex is worth sitting through Celeste and Jessie Forever, no matter what she knows how to do.  Celeste and Jessie Forever is not a rom-com, it’s worse–it’s a chick flick.
     “Rom-com” gets tossed around like a dirty word (as I just did), but a good rom-com will come as close as possible to a 50-50 split for the screen time between the guy and the gal on screen.  The men in the audience have someone to relate to, and so will the women; everyone’s happy.  A good romance is a tough act to pull off, because we have to fall in love with both the male and female leads, and want them to get together, or feel sad if they don’t.
     A chick flick though makes no effort to appeal to men, and that’s fine.  But it’s cruel and unusual to drag a guy to one.  As much as I’m protesting, my problem here isn’t that it’s a chick flick.  My problem is that it isn’t a good chick flick.  The characters are unlikable and thinly written, the dialog is weak, and the comedy falls flat.
     The Story:  Jessie (Andy Samberg) is a talented artist, but irresponsible and unmotivated.  Celeste is the successful, but uptight, fussy one (because movie couples “need” this dichotomy).  They’ve known each other for most of their lives, and have been married for six years.  They’re now separated, but remain good friends, even though she’s seeking a divorce from him.  He lives in the guest house, secretly hoping they’ll get back together.
     Their meddlesome friends are weirded out that Celeste and Jessie get on so well under the circumstances, and pressure Jessie into dating again.  When he does, Celeste gets jealous, and calls Jessie over for a household chore.  They both happen to be drunk, and end up sleeping together.  Celeste regrets it the next morning, and breaks Jessie’s heart.  She soon realizes she handled it poorly and still has feelings for him after all, but it’s too late; Jessie has moved out of the guest house and moved on in earnest.
     The rest of Celeste and Jessie Forever deals with how they handle moving on in their romantic lives, while struggling with feelings that still linger for one another.
     Celeste and Jessie Forever is Celeste’s story, how she deals with losing the love of her life, and whether or not she can get him back.  Well, how sad for her, but that doesn’t mean we empathize.  Jessie gets so little character development that he isn’t worth all the fuss—I struggled to come up with even two adjectives for him, and neither of them are positive.  That he gets so little screen time undermines the payoff the film builds towards.  Just because the characters care, doesn’t mean we do.
     However, we’re not invested in Celeste either, even though she gets the lion’s share of the screen time.  She is a maladjusted, miserable wretch who spends the bulk of the movie rejecting new suitors, looking scornfully at her new client at her marketing firm, and drinking and drugging to cope with the loss of Jessie.  And she has no one to blame but herself for that.  The sympathy bank just called.  Celeste’s account is overdrawn.
     Celeste and Jessie Forever is a freshman screenplay, co-written by Rashida Jones, who plays Celeste.  Characters drop in and out of the overpopulated narrative, such as a girl that works at a yogurt shop who goes out on a date with Jessie and is never seen again.  Celeste is dialog-heavy, but without any knack for it, and is fixated on its own cleverness.  There was not a lot of laughter at my screening, a few chuckles, perhaps.  The humor is dry as sand and half as sweet.
     Characters describe each other (even if they don’t really know them very well) rather than letting their actions speak for them.  The story is focused on internal struggles—the stuff of novels, not films, where we need to see the conflict.  At one point, I was watching an extra bustle about the background, dusting furniture and pointlessly rearranging pillows on a sofa, rather than listening to whatever Celeste was droning on about.  Celeste and Jessie Forever is best watched at home, where at least the mute button on the remote will work, not that there’s much to look at.  It’s bitter, unfunny, and fails to resolve.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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