Celeste and Jesse Forever

Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 00:00

It is, unfortunately, impossible to discuss this diverting romantic comedy without giving away the best joke in the film.

We begin with Celeste and Jesse (Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg) driving home through achingly trendy areas of LA. They talk cute in the most nauseating fashion – one game involves comedy European accents – and play erotic games with tubes of unguent. This must be the most annoyingly well-suited couple in Southern California. Then somebody breaks the news that they’ve broken up and are currently working through a lengthy divorce. A nicely played, stylishly shot game of minor shrew vs baby man follows.

Jones is co-author of the script, but she has, sadly, fallen into the post-Apatow trap of asking the female characters to be more sensible, but decidedly less fun, than their male counterparts. It seems reasonable that Jesse be asked to grow up a little. It is rather less tolerable that Celeste is forced to warm to her sometime partner’s social retardation.

Still, this remains a pretty zippy piece of faux-indie wish-fulfilment.Though the film attempts a wisp of satire, the characters’ comfortable bourgeois complacency is never challenged. It, perhaps, says something about the film-makers’ skill that Celeste’s job as a trend forecaster ends up seeming like

a more worthwhile profession than, say, aura cleansing or stilt walking.

What makes the picture fly is the delicious chemistry between the two leads. Jones conveys a stroppy sense of self-righteousness that crumbles nicely when, by chance rather than design, Jesse happens upon some overdue responsibility. Samberg is never exactly lovable, but he manages to heighten Jesse’s listlessness to comic proportions.

True, the film shows its toothless nature when it refuses to properly eviscerate Emma Roberts’s silly tweenie pop star. But there are worse crimes than being just a little bit too nice. A cautious thumbs up.

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