Subverting the romcom with a falling-out-of-love story is a bit old hat.
Many have tried; many have failed.
Celeste & Jesse Forever also tries and fails, but entertains along the way.
Rashida Jones (who co-writes) plays Celeste, a proper grown-up with a highflying job, who was once married to slacker Jesse (Andy Samberg).
They’re recently divorced, not that you’d know it by the way they make goo-goo eyes at each other. Celeste and Jesse are an irritating pair; self-indulgent, gabby yuppies, who should really just shut up and kiss.
Some of this is intentional, but an additional 10 per cent of the irritation results from cutesy jokes that don’t work.
This is a romcom without the ‘rom’, but also, largely, without the ‘com’.
Things improve when a genuine obstacle to Jesse and Celeste’s hitherto tediously inevitable reunion appears, morphing the film into a vision of LA ennui a la Greenberg , Passenger Side or the upcoming Nobody Walks .
But the performances are a mixed bag. Elijah Wood is awkward as the gay BFF, and as for Saturday Night Live ’s bright young hope? It’s hard to tell where Samberg’s feckless character ends and his feckless performance begins.
But Celeste & Jesse is redeemed by the first half of the equation. Celeste has real personality flaws that, unlike a tendency to adorably spill lattes over eligible bachelors, make for a perceptively drawn character arc.
But none of it would work if Rashida Jones wasn’t such a charming actress. In a career that’s consisted of underwritten girlfriend parts, Celeste is a role in which she can stretch and bend.
But then again, she did co-write it herself.