Rashida Jones (“The Social Network”) was funny when she appeared on shows like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” I had to keep reminding myself of this when I discovered her in her first starring role in “Celeste and Jesse Forever” (Jones co-wrote the screenplay in collaboration with Will McCormack), a movie like “(500) Days of Summer” although not as good.
Jones plays Celeste to Andy Samberg’s Jesse. Together they form a young couple who got married early but are now headed for divorce. Celeste is an executive at a thriving marketing firm while Jesse the artist spends most of his time being a slacker surfer (hence the divorce). Only, the two are still very close, which is bothersome to both of their married friends (Ari Graynor, Eric Christian Olsen), and Jesse is still holding out hope, which only intensifies as the various drunken flings prone to occuring between these two occur.
We get no background on this story. If the only problem with the relationship is Jesse’s lack of a job, then why can’t he just find something which would put his artistic talents to good use? Did they try counseling? And, in a silly plot turn, why would Jesse just suddenly impregnate a new girlfriend when he seems to prefer a lackadaisical life? For two people who are supposed to be smart thirtysomethings Celeste and Jesse appear mildly retarded.
Things that Jones seems to think are adorable (Celeste and Jesse take part in a long-running gag about jerking off small objects which look like small penises) really come off as obnoxious and pathetic. Not to mention lame gags like getting stuck in a trashcan and the cornerstone of any desperate comedy, the goofy drunk scene. For a romantic comedy serving up keen observations on unraveling relationships, the jokes are witless and rarely gain traction.
“Celeste and Jesse Forever” basically feels like its goes on forever with a circular plot that has them either staying together, going, remaining the same (and on and on). In the end we’re privy to the same helpful lessons, the woman stops being such a ball-breaker, the guy not so lazy, but the two dull, unfunny characters make that less of a shining journey than initially hoped. And I doubt many people who work at a marketing firm sit around and make snarky comments about how there’s no intelligence in pop music. Like the rest of this movie, it’s a really unfunny take on something that’s pretty hollow.