The film begins with a seemingly normal married couple, casually chatting in the car, until they take out a Vaseline tube. Giggling wildly they simulate what can only be described as a mini happy ending for the classic lip chap, eventually squeezing the tube to allow the clear gel to squirt out of the top. It’s weird. Very weird. But it’s the kind of inside joke that true best friends can share without inhibition. We immediately realize that Celeste (an absolutely perfect Rashida Jones) and Jesse (a sweet and subdued Andy Samberg) have a unique and meaningful relationship. What we do not yet realize is that the pair have been separated for the past few months.
“It’s the perfect breakup,” says Samberg’s character, who is still living in his ex-wife’s guest house – until it isn’t. Although Jesse is not ready to call it quits, Celeste is set in her decision, and the ex-couple finally decide to do the unthinkable: cut each other out of their lives for good.
Jesse initially tries to change Celeste’s mind but when that proves futile, Jesse decides to move on and suddenly it’s Celeste who is in turmoil over the breakup. The movie slowly churns on as we follow Celeste’s endearing Type-A personality through a string of classic breakup scenarios and attempts at healing her broken heart.
There is a club scene, emotional eating, marijuana-fueled pity parties, including a hilariously honest heart-to-heart between Celeste & her creepy yet charming drug dealer, Skillz, played by Will McCormack. As if that wasn’t enough, there is snooping through trash, house parties, bad dates, yoga, discussions with her gay best friend (an adorable, although cliché, Elijah Wood), divorce papers, Facebook stalking, and of course, karaoke (which leads us to conclude that while Jones can successfully carry a movie, she should probably leave music up to her father, Quincy Jones).
The movie is heartfelt, funny, and just a little bit predictable. Jones and Samberg prove that they can charm any audience, but the script (penned by Jones and McCormack) is less than perfect, sometimes leaving us with jokes that fall short and characters that, with the exception of Celeste, could be further developed. However, it is the sincerity of its main characters and the thoughtful, genuine way in which Celeste goes about her rediscovery, that makes the movie so enjoyable.
She definitely fails more times than she triumphs, but along the way there are meaningful and honest moments, cleverly cushioned by humour and a heartbreaking soundtrack, from Donnie & Joe Emerson’s “Baby,” to Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend,” it might be the most diverse soundtrack of the summer.
The cinematography is surprisingly impressive as well, with one of the film’s most poignant scenes culminating in a striking frame of Jones, smoking a cigarette, her hair and coat blowing in the wind as she stands in front of a white wedding tent.
If there is a pair who can laugh while signing divorce papers and then high five while they leave the building, it’s Jones and Samberg. Celeste and Jesse Forever is sad at the same time as it is heartwarming and will probably join the ranks of classic indies such as (500) Days of Summer.
As the credits roll, we are left with a string of questions to contemplate. Can friendship between two people be forever, even if they aren’t? Is there such a thing as the right person, or even the wrong person? Can two people truly love each other, move on, and still be happy for one another? The movie’s main truth may be that we grow with every relationship, whether we wish to or not.
As Skillz says to Celeste while they take hits from a massive blue bong, “When you can no longer change the situation, you need to change yourself. Victor Frankl… or Biggie… I don’t know.”
Celeste and Jesse Forever will open Aug. 31 at Cineplex Forum. See your local listings for showtimes.
Watch the trailer: