“Celeste and Jesse Forever”
Opening this weekend at the Oriental, "Celeste and Jesse Forever," written by and starring Rashida Jones, works hard to be a different kind of romantic comedy.
The problem with romantic comedies made in Hollywood these days is that they all end happily and they don’t earn that happy ending. Even the sad ones end upbeat. It’s what Woody Allen was referring to in his film Hollywood Ending. No matter what happens, the guy and the girl have to be better off in the end. Even if they’re not together, they learn something and are happier for it.
Even though Celeste and Jesse Forever works hard to be a different kind of love story, by the time we get to the end, it has fulfilled the requirements of the formula and proven to be a little less than satisfying.
Celeste and Jesse have been friends since the sandbox, or so it seems. They married. She is successful as a “trend spotter.” He is not, as an “artist.” They have separated and are in the process of getting a divorce. But they don’t play by the “rules” and continue to be best friends, playing lots of funny, cute games with each other, often to the exclusion of their best friends, who can’t understand how they can like each other so much without wanting to be together.
There are a lot of plot points that you would expect in a Hollywood romantic comedy of the early part of this century, but Rashida Jones, who stars as Celeste and wrote the script, neatly sidesteps falling too deeply into the cliches. The script is funny and charming at times, and Andy Samberg from Saturday Night Live, almost makes it touching.
But maybe I have just gotten old and am too disenchanted by the notions of love and romance in this modern era, but I honestly don’t think people really react to each other, or negotiate the way the way people in these movies do. But as a friend of mine once said about a movie he had directed, “Blues Brothers, not a documentary.” So I guess they don’t owe me reality, just entertainment, a dream, a fantasy. And it’s cheaper than heroin and easier on the body.
Celeste and Jesse Forever opens Friday, Aug. 24, at the Oriental and at a theater near you in a week or two.