“Celeste and Jesse Forever” features perhaps the most amicable divorce in the history of cinema, as long-time friends Celeste (co-writer Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) seem to cope with the dissolution of their marriage by hanging out a lot and acting like almost nothing changed. It could be a strained set-up if Samberg and Jones didn’t have such propulsive comedic energy. They play off each other marvelously, covering up recurring tensions with inside jokes and goofy accents.
Once their relationship starts to collapse under the weight of things unsaid and the couple starts seeing other people, the film begins giving in to its worst impulses far too readily. Its jokes are often obvious and uninspired, and Celeste becomes fatally self-obsessed. Jones has played the post-breakup spiral time and time again, but Celeste’s descent into self-pity is equally irritating and relatable. On one hand, the film engages in cliché after cliché, even subverting some of its most hopeful moments in favor of a wincing, expected crash back to reality. On the other, it’s hard not to recognize the most desperate parts of yourself in Celeste’s wallowing, and even when “Celeste and Jesse Forever” delves into something you’ve seen before, it’s never unrealistic.
Sadly, the drama outweighs the comedy in “Celeste and Jesse Forever.” Despite strong performances from Jones and Samberg, plus a memorable supporting turn from professional voice of reason Ari Graynor, the film’s story is too uninspired and rooted in what we’ve seen before to be worth recommending.
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Runtime: 92 minutes