So nice to be nice

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

CE­LESTE AND JESSE FOR­EVER ★★★ Di­rected by Lee Toland. Star­ring Rashida Jones, Andy Sam­berg, Chris Messina, Ari Graynor, Eric Chris­tian Olsen, Will McCor­mack 15A cert, gen­eral re­lease, 92 min

It is, un­for­tu­nately, im­pos­si­ble to dis­cuss this di­vert­ing ro­man­tic com­edy with­out giv­ing away the best joke in the film.

We be­gin with Ce­leste and Jesse (Rashida Jones and Andy Sam­berg) driv­ing home through achingly trendy ar­eas of LA. They talk cute in the most nau­se­at­ing fash­ion – one game in­volves com­edy Euro­pean ac­cents – and play erotic games with tubes of unguent. This must be the most an­noy­ingly well-suited cou­ple in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Then some­body breaks the news that they’ve bro­ken up and are cur­rently work­ing through a lengthy di­vorce. rather less tol­er­a­ble that Ce­leste is forced to warm to her some­time part­ner’s so­cial re­tar­da­tion.

Still, this re­mains a pretty zippy piece of faux-in­die wish-ful­fil­ment. Though the film at­tempts a wisp of satire, the characters’ com­fort­able bour­geois com­pla­cency is never chal­lenged. It, per­haps, says some­thing about the film-mak­ers’ skill that Ce­leste’s job as a trend fore­caster ends up seem­ing like a more worth­while pro­fes­sion than, say, aura cleans­ing or stilt walking.

What makes the pic­ture fly is the de­li­cious chem­istry be­tween the two leads. Jones con­veys a stroppy sense of self-right­eous­ness that crum­bles nicely when, by chance rather than de­sign, Jesse hap­pens upon some over­due re­spon­si­bil­ity. Sam­berg is never ex­actly lovable, but he man­ages to heighten Jesse’s list­less­ness to comic pro­por­tions.

True, the film shows its tooth­less na­ture when it re­fuses to prop­erly evis­cer­ate Emma Roberts’s silly twee­nie pop star. But there are worse crimes than be­ing just a lit­tle bit too nice. A cau­tious thumbs up. A nicely played, stylishly shot game of mi­nor shrew vs baby man fol­lows.

Jones is co-au­thor of the script, but she has, sadly, fallen into the post-Apa­tow trap of ask­ing the fe­male characters to be more sen­si­ble, but de­cid­edly less fun, than their male coun­ter­parts. It seems rea­son­able that Jesse be asked to grow up a lit­tle. It is

Trend-spot­ter: star and co-writer Rashida Jones as Ce­leste

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