“Celeste and Jesse Forever” is a semi-depressing, indie-esque film that has a not-so-typical ending for a romantic comedy, especially considering that both the stars and writers of the film are famous comedians: Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg.
The film starts out with the couple, Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Samberg), meeting their recently engaged friends for dinner. Celeste and Jesse talk in cutesy accents, are extremely affectionate, and live in their own little world. They seem like the perfect couple-almost like newlyweds.
But they are not newlyweds. They are not even married. In fact, they are newly divorced best friends. They still live together, still love each other, and still hang out all the time. They even share a car.
Their plan is to stay best friends while they both date other people, which sounds like wishful thinking to me, especially since neither of them seems to be dating other people.
Samberg plays a twenty-something, dead-beat artist without any motivation or money. He lives in his shed-turned-studio, which is where he spends most of his days watching the Beijing Olympics and crying. He does not own a pair of dress shoes and does not have a checking account. Also, he is still head-over-heels for his ex-wife and best friend, Celeste, and is desperately trying to get her back. He has not taken the divorce as well as Celeste has.
Celeste is an over-worked public relations executive and trend forecaster who seems to be frustrated with everything in her life, except for her relationship with Jesse. She dresses in all dark colors and is a little uptight. She and Jesse are total opposites.
Celeste is perfectly content with her ex-husband living in their shed, and actually loves to have him there. All of their friends think it is strange that they spend all their time together. It is clear that Celeste is just keeping him around so she can be admired and feel good about herself for once, but she is breaking his heart more every day, which worries all of their close friends.
After a huge fight with Celeste, Jesse moves out while Celeste is on a business trip. He welcomes her back home with some surprising and completely random news: he is having a baby. He reveals that he had a one-night-stand with some Belgium girl. He also tells Celeste that he wants to make it work with her so they can raise the baby together.
At this announcement, Celeste begins dating and stops talking to Jesse altogether. This sudden turn of events was surprising, especially because it completely changed the audience’s view of Jesse. He seemed to be so in love with his ex-wife that it was shocking to discover that he was seeing other women.
At the beginning of the film, I was “Team Jesse” because it was so hard not to feel bad for him. However, after learning about his one-night-stand, I suddenly started rooting for Celeste to find a better man.
She sets up a variety of dates with some very interesting men. She has dinner with a chubby nerd, who ends up liking Jesse more than her after Jesse accidently crashes their date. She has drinks with a handsome photographer who is the perfect guy-until he asks her to watch him masturbate. She goes dancing with a creepy guy from her yoga class, who actually seems to be pretty nice, but Celeste just does not like him.
She even gets tea with Jesse at an organic, vegan restaurant. This “date” lasts about four minutes, which is how long it takes Celeste to sign the divorce papers and for her to realize how suddenly Jesse has morphed into a hemp-smoking, herbal tea-drinking, smelly hippie.
After meeting with Jesse, Celeste makes some major life change, most of which are not so healthy. She starts binge drinking, smoking pot, and going to college parties and gay clubs with a Miley Cyrus-inspired pop star, who is a client at her PR firm.
This is where Jones really shows her talent as a comedian. She portrays her role in such a depressing way that it is somehow strangely hilarious. It was hard not to laugh at Jones when her character was passed out drunk on a pool toy at a baby shower.
Both Jones and Samberg do a phenomenal job portraying the broad range of emotions needed to facilitate this strange plot. However, the film is hard to relate to because the story is so unique. In the real world, a divorce would cause two people to stop speaking, start hating each other, or at least try to remain civil, but Jesse and Celeste try to be best friends and roommates! It just does not seem like this type of relationship would be remotely possible or pleasant.
While the film is enjoyable and funny in a subdued, witty way, the plot is just too strange to enjoy without constantly thinking “this would never happen in real life.”
Liz Thompson is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies and minoring in journalism. She can be reached at ET715984@wcupa.edu.