From an outside observer's perspective, Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are the perfect married couple. They have multiple inside jokes, sing along to the radio together, and have been together since high school. However, Celeste and Jesse are separated and have been for the last six months. Jesse, the less successful of the two professionally, moved out out their house but only to the guest house/studio in the back. They still have dinner with their friends together and Celeste, perhaps without realizing it, still wears a heart-shaped necklace which says "C&J 4ever".
Celeste and Jesse Forever is a first time writing credit for Rashida Jones and Will McCormack who plays Skillz, the on/off again couple's marijuana supplier and sounding board. For first time screenwriters, the screenplay is noticeably witty without tripping into slapstick or tried and true romantic comedy cliches. There are a few problems though, Celeste is a successful trend forecaster (what?) and the line "Are we really doing this?" or "Is this happening right now?" pops up in almost every situation. When Celeste calls out a coffee shop line cutter, the guys says, "Are we really going this right now?" When yoga classmate a Paul (Chris Messina) tries to ask out Celeste, she naturally responds, "Are you really doing this right now?" Yes, this is trivial, but if dialogue like this distracts the audience during the film, it is unnecessary.
Jesse wants to get back together with Celeste. Yes, they fight and he mooches off of his wife because he is an unemployed artist, but they are so good together. After getting his hopes dashed on too many times, Jesse finally screws up his nerve and moves out. This knocks the wind out of Celeste. For her, Jesse is as predictable as the morning commute. When she doesn't feel like having his company, she just sends him back outside to the studio. But now he's gone. Does Celeste even know who she is sans Jesse?
At work, Celeste works comfortably for Scott (Elijah Wood), a homosexual who makes tacky gay jokes to try and seem more gay. Aside from trend forecasting and promoting her new book 'Shitegeist' which is about the death of quality pop culture, their firm also markets and brands artists. Their new client is Riley Banks (Emma Roberts) who is written as a completely vapid imitation, or actual representation, of Ke$ha. Celeste and Riley have an uncomfortable relationship as Celeste looks down on Riley as all that is wrong with the world and Riley cannot stand Celeste's condescension. It does not help that Riley's new music single is 'Do It On My Face'.
Perhaps Celeste finds it so hard to work with Riley and competently function in day-to-day life because she is having second thoughts and regrets. Was Jesse really so bad? Now that is he is out from under her shadow, what if Jesse straightens himself out, matures, but meets someone else? These are weighty issues for a comedy which turns out to be deeper and incorporates more drama than the average rom com.
Celeste and Jesse Forever is an admirable start for two new writers, a worthy relationship study, and I recommend it for any young couple on a Friday night.