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Review: 'Celeste and Jesse Forever' is summer fun

By Michelle F. Solomon, Contributing writer
Published On: Aug 24 2012 11:29:43 AM CDT
Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Celeste and Jesse Forever

Sony Pictures Classics

"Celeste and Jesse Forever" is filled with originality and a modern romance perfect to wave goodbye to summer and usher in fall.

In the film, love has bloomed already for Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg), thirtysomethings who fell in love in high school, got married and have now decided to divorce. The only trouble is, they are best friends -- finishing each other's sentences, laughing at their own inside immature jokes and living within a stone's throw away (he's moved in to a garage-type artist's studio in the back of their house).

But as comfortable as their relationship is, there's tension between the two. A slacker graphic designer, Jesse makes false promises about impending jobs, while Celeste is climbing the high powered ladder in her own media consulting firm.

As the two start to drift apart and are forced to go their separate ways, Celeste begins to realize what she's lost in Jesse. Yes, it sounds formulaic, but the script finds a way to tell its own story.

"Celeste and Jesse Forever" is, no doubt, a 21st century "When Harry Met Sally," and while that had its own take on boy meets girl and then what, this sharply written creative romantic comedy puts a spin on modern love and avoids predictability.

Jones, who is so wonderful on the television series "Parks and Recreation," co-wrote the screenplay with Will McCormack, who plays pot dealer and Jesse's pal, Skillz. Jones and McCormack based the movie slightly on their own personal relationship, which they say lasted for three weeks until they realized that they were better off as friends.

Samberg of "Saturday Night Live" fame shows his comic timing as Jesse, while Emma Roberts steals every scene she's in as a Miley Cyrus type pop star named Riley. Elijah Wood, in one of the funniest casting choices, is superbly laugh-out-loud funny as Celeste's gay co-worker.

"Celeste and Jesse Forever" did well at the Sundance and Los Angeles film festivals and its independent-type nature does give it a film festival tone, which makes it all the more likeable because of its intimacy.

The movie does feel a bit longer than its 91 minutes and there is a bit of repetition as Celeste begins her downward spiral. However, in that nosedive to the bottom there are great one liners amid a really messed up marketing campaign for Riley's new album.

You will probably not cheer for Celeste and Jesse to live happily ever after, but you won't mind that you've spent time getting to know the pair. However, there is one question that continues to have me stumped. How are we supposed to believe that a guy who looks like Andy Samberg can attract not one, but two extremely good looking women?