'Celeste and Jesse Forever'
If Stuff White People Like ever wrote a spec script mocking twee indie movies, it would look a whole lot like Celeste and Jesse Forever.
SWPL didn't write it. In fact Rashida Jones, one of the stars of the film, did along with Will McCormack, and the pair have just about perfectly crystallized first-world problems in a 92-minute capsule. I say all this with reluctant annoyance. Jones is so gosh darn likable. So is her co-star Andy Samberg -- the Jesse of this titular duo. It's just too bad they were squeezed in to a premise that does so little to earn its main characters the empathy needed to fully enjoy their comedic misadventures. Celeste and Jesse are a soon-to-be-divorced couple who can't let go of the whole best friendship thing. So much for friendship being one of the most important components of a good relationship, I guess.
To the great consternation of their friends, they still act like a married couple in most respects, except Jesse lives in the guest house out back and there are no longer any marital -- ahem -- relations to between them.
This is a setup I could have gotten behind had it been treated with a little less reverence. Both clearly still hold a candle for each other, but, exaggerated versions of millenial yuppies that they are, neither is willing to be even remotely confrontational about it. It's puzzling then that rather than thoroughly mocking the passive-aggressive politeness of the pair, Jones and McCormack chose to go down such a conventional path in the second and third acts.
Stop me if you've heard this before: Jesse is an adolescent slacker in the body of a thirtysomething and Celeste is a career-first Type-A personality who is flustered by even the mildest disruptions to her structured life. Conflict, and a few laughs (most notably involving baby corn), ensue.
Right down to the end of the film, which naturally doesn't conform to convention I've just laid out, Jones and McCormack seem to want to have their cake and eat it too. They strafe at satirizing modern relationships and then bolt back to the comfort and safety of a run-of-the mill rom-com. There are good ideas here, and a charming enough cast to do something with them. Unfortunately, the courage to run with them completely seemed to be lacking.