Romance and friendship are two different things. Just ask any of the girls who have rejected me over the years. They would agree that there isn’t much of a romance to root for in “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” least of all when the title characters are as wishy-washy and condescending as this.
Celeste and Jesse’s (Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg) clever charade is that although they’ve been maritally separated for six months, they still hang out together as best friends. They’re the kind of couple that’s so good together that they become insufferable around other people. They should be brother and sister, or they should have one of those couple pet names. Maybe Jeleste.
Jeleste rattle off hipster-y dialogue while they’re together and enjoy condescending and judging about nitpicky social faux-pas like cutting in line at the coffee shop or about talentless tween pop stars while still acting too cool for vegan food.
Their problems as a couple are quite simply that Celeste has a job and Jesse doesn’t. He starts dating and getting his act together, and she implodes very quickly.
But it doesn’t get deeper than that, nor does the film give us real opportunities to understand why they should work as a couple. They have great chemistry, and they can get drunk and have makeout sessions, but no discernible problems or emotions are brought to the surface. It ignores the issue that all their friends’ lives revolve around talking Jeleste’s relationship and that maybe it’s this self-centered, entitled attitude that’s creating problems for the pair of them at home.
Rashida Jones is the type of actress who can be likeable even when acting like she’s better than you, so in writing the part for herself, she helps put Celeste in a good light. But I wish the limelight veered more to the surprisingly deep pop star Riley Banks (Emma Roberts), to Celeste’s colleague and more than a gay friend Scott (Elijah Wood) or to Celeste’s new boyfriend Paul (Chris Messina).
“Celeste and Jesse Forever” is a movie that was nice to get to know, but I think we’d be better off just as friends.