365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)

Celeste and Jesse Forever is a fantastic little movie paused on a completely implausible concept, that being that you can remain best friends with the love of your life after a failed relationship. I think that the movie was a difficult sell. While it hit with the critics (70% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), it missed with audiences (just $3 million at the box office). The movie stars two of Hollywood's funniest young actors (Andy Samberg - Saturday Night Live and Rashida Jones - NBC's Parks and Recreation) who have worked so hard on the small screen that now they are household names. I think that this both helped and hurt the movie. When we see each of the names, we think comedy, comedy, comedy. So when we see them in a movie like Celeste and Jesse Forever that has as much drama as it does comedy, we aren't sure what to think.

Personally, I loved this movie. It was extremely hilarious and highly entertaining. However, it was also very difficult to believe that the lives of these two lead characters are so great that they can finish each other's jokes, be the shoulder for the other to cry on, and be the person that the other one turns to first in times of need while they are in the middle stages of a divorce. Celeste (Jones - The Social Network, I Love You, Man) and Jesse (That's My Boy, Hot Rod) are college sweethearts and have been married for six years. But here we find them, seemingly happy, as they wait for the divorce papers to be officially signed. I thought the first 20 minutes of this movie were way too corny. I was worried that was how the entire movie would go. But it took some turns, some predictable and some unpredictable. But when it hit the finish line, I was satisfied with Lee Toland Krieger's (The Vicious Kind) low budget movie.

We first meet them while they are on a double date with friends Beth (Ari Graynor - Whip It, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) and Tucker (The Thing, Eagle Eye). Beth and Tucker are engaged to be married and they both seem puzzled and jealous of the relationship that Celeste and Jesse have. They aren't the only ones who are puzzled by it. As an audience, we all are. Celeste and Jesse each have a lot going for them. They are both attractive. They are both healthy and fit. Neither one seems to carry a lot of baggage. They manage their finances well. They are funny. They each have a lot of friends. I could go on and on about all of the great qualities each of the two individuals possesses. They each seem like a great catch. On top of that, they are madly in love with one another. They will stop whatever they are doing to be there for each other. They don't really fight. They have a deep and passionate love for one another. So why are they getting a divorce? Herein lies the problem of the movie.

Basically Celeste wants Jesse to change. From her standpoint, Jesse hasn't developed or matured as she would like to. He still lives as if he were in college. He doesn't have a steady job. He's a graphic designer. While he does have some leads, he doesn't pursue them seriously enough. He's more content watching cartoons while eating cereal, surfing, or just drinking with his buddies. Celeste is a trend predictor. She basically identifies what is hot and what is not in Hollywood. She tries to get a leg up on the next hot talent and tries to figure out what things will be successful (both short term and long) and what things won't work or will fizzle out. She's good at her job. She's ready to take the next step in life. He is not. We are led to believe that the idea to divorce was mutual, but it is implied that this is more Celeste's idea than it is Jesse's. In the back of their minds, it seems like they both think that they'll get back together. It's more a matter of under what terms. Will Jesse have to make the necessary adjustments to fit in with Celeste's plan? Or will Celeste realize that there is no one better for her than Jesse and take him back. It goes back to a popular phrase regarding the maturation in the relationship process. "The woman wants the man to change, but he never does. The man does not want the woman to change, but she always does." However, this is usually something that rolls through the mind of a couple at the start of a relationship or maybe when deciding if a potential partner is the one. This movie is predicated too much on the idea that divorce is totally normal and it's even more normal to stay best friends with the person you are divorcing. To me, that just doesn't seem applicable.

This movie is very current. She references trend sites like TMZ and Prez Hilton. I liked that about this movie. It will be funny to see how dated this movie is, say 20 years from now. This movie is highly entertaining. It is just sentimental enough to make you empathize with its two starts when things go bad and root for them when things go well. It is funny. You'll chuckle along throughout its entirety. There are also at least five times that you'll laugh out loud. Jones, who co-wrote the movie, proves that she can be a lead actress. I do not watch Parks and Recreation. Some have said that Celeste is just a more put together extension of the character she plays on that show. I could see that as being a potential problem in terms of her depth as an actress. She's absolutely hilarious in this movie though. I think Samberg is extremely funny on Saturday Night Live. Though he is probably much older than many people think (born in 1978), I think he still has a great career in front of him. But Jones stole the show here. She seems very independent and sure of herself at one moment and extremely vulnerable and uncertain about anything in her life the next. She has some great scenes with some of the people she starts dating after Jesse. As the movie progresses, Celeste becomes more of the focal point. Rashida Jones is both charming and brilliant and I hope there are many more roles out there for her. She reminds me of Kristen Wiig. Put these actresses in your movies and we will come see them.

This is a great movie for couples in a strong relationship or for couples whose relationship isn't that strong, but know that it's worth fighting for. I think it's a great movie to watch for people born in the late 1970's or early 1980's since the characters in this movie are each about 35 years old. I was a big fan of this movie and a bigger fan of its two leads.

Plot 7.5/10
Character Development 8/10 (Celeste and Jesse each changed a little too quickly for my liking)
Character Chemistry 9/10
Acting 9/10
Screenplay 7.5/10
Directing  7.5/10
Cinematography 7/10
Sound 7/10 (this is one of those movies that REALLY could have had an awesome soundtrack - a soundtrack that could have been remembered forever, similar to Singles or Reality Bites. I think there was a missed opportunity here.)
Hook and Reel 9/10
Universal Relevance 8/10 (it's very relevant and very irrelevant at the same time...a divorce is very universal, but I think this way of dealing with it is very abnormal)


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