Perhaps the nicest thing that can be said of Celeste and Jesse Forever is that it doesn’t follow the incredibly clichéd romantic-comedy formula right down to the letter. After seeing dozens and dozens of rom-com films roll off the assembly line featuring the exact same scenario, it’s a slight breath of fresh air to see one at least try to go in a different direction. That being said, it still falls for many of the old trappings that the formula provides, one of which ends up being a pretty big nail in the coffin for the film from pretty much the very beginning.
The film revolves around Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg), a couple that has recently separated, but who are still living right next to each other and remain the best of friends. This becomes a rather awkward situation, particularly for their friends who are not sure what is going on between the two. The situation becomes even more awkward when their friends urge them to date other people, despite there still being a really strong connection between them. However, the two give it a shot, which stirs up feelings in both of them as things become rather serious between Jesse and his new girlfriend, Veronica (Rebecca Dayan). Clearly Celeste and Jesse aren’t quite as over each other as they thought.
Have you discovered what it is yet? Well here it is. One of the most annoying things about a standard rom-com tends to be the main couple itself, mainly due to their inability to figure out that they love each other. It works a little differently here, but the principle is still the same. However, “Celeste and Jess Forever” goes the extra mile by having the characters display such annoying behavior in the first five minutes of the film that you know right then and there that these are people you would not want to spend the next 90 minutes with.
Celeste and Jesse’s second scene together has them having dinner with friends, and for some reason they decide to use German accents while deciding what to have. They obviously think this is hilarious, but meanwhile, the audience’s reaction is more like their friends’ (i.e. a “What in the world are you doing? stare”). The very next scene has them in the car pretending to “massage” a tube of lip balm as though it were a phallic object. Again, they think this is hysterical. The audience, not so much.
Luckily, their bad sense of humor doesn’t show up all that often for the rest of the film. However, what does show up for the rest of the film is their inability to figure out that they should just be together. The film starts off with them having been separated for a few months, so we figure something must have happened to drive them apart (well, at least drive their marriage apart), but from the way that they still hang out as best friends, it must not have been something very big.
These two obviously still have deep feelings for each other from the way they act when they are together. This is shown even more when they start dating different people. The way they check up on each other and the way they act all devastated when one of them has gone out with someone else is more than enough to see that their close relationship is far from over. Even on their own dates, they can’t shake the feelings they still have for each other.
Late in the film however, there is an event that signals that the standard rom-com ending is no longer a viable option. Almost all rom-com writers would just throw the couple together at the end after jerking the audience around for 90 minutes in an attempt to make us think that they’ll get back together. Celeste and Jesse Forever even goes so far as to give us the standard event that makes us think the couple will never talk to each other again, but as far as the ending you’re expecting, you won’t find it here.
Again, it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air to see that the writers, Rashida Jones and Will McCormick, don’t go down the obvious path (though, to be fair, the path they choose becomes rather obvious), which they should be applauded for. However, the film just feels like it ends the wrong way with the main characters making the wrong moves throughout. That’s not saying that we always need a happy ending, far from it, but we should at least get a logical ending, which this seemed to be lacking.
Rom-coms always seem to have one problem or another. For some writers, their problem is sticking to the formula like there’s nothing else in the world that could happen in the genre. For others, the problem is simply coming up with a film that is believable. Jones and McCormick avoided some of the issues with problem one, but fell into a rather big pitfall with problem two. Hopefully, should these two attempt another screenplay, they’ll work harder on the characters so that the same issues won’t befall them the second time around.
Turning now to the disc itself, the film is presented in a 2.40:1, 1080p HD transfer that is nice and sharp. Likewise, there’s nothing to complain about with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. It may be a small film, but it got great treatment when it came to the video and audio quality.
The Blu-Ray comes with the following special features:
- Two Audio Commentaries – 1) Star/Writer Rashida Jones and Co-Star Andy Samberg, 2) Writers Rashida Jones and Will McCormick, Director Lee Toland Krieger
- Deleted Scenes
- The Making of Celeste and Jesse Forever
- On the Red Carpet: Premiere Q&A
Starting off with the commentaries, the first one with Jones and Samberg is rather pointless to listen to. It merely has them goofing around with each other and not really talking about the film much at all. They basically become as annoying as their characters in the movie. The second track is a little more on point, but it shows that they don’t have much to say about the film at all, at least not anything interesting.
The deleted scenes don’t really offer anything worth watching and are just tiny snippets that were cut out for good reasons. The “Making of” and Q&A featurettes are the two extras that are worth a watch, particularly if you enjoyed the film. Both of them feature interviews with the cast and crew who talk about the characters and how the film came to be, so at the very least, you get to learn a little bit about the movie.
This is another release that, despite having a couple of good special features and great quality, is brought down by the film itself. I still long for that romantic-comedy that is entirely original, avoiding the formula as though it were the plague. Celeste and Jesse Forever tries to sidestep parts of it, only to find other issues in its way. We can only imagine how good the film might have been had it stuck to a believable reality. Then again, the film probably wouldn’t exist had it done so. Looks like it was a lose-lose situation for it either way.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.