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Sundance Reviews: Sony Pictures Classics Pick-Up ‘Celeste & Jesse Forever’

Sundance Reviews: Sony Pictures Classics Pick-Up 'Celeste & Jesse Forever'

In its second buy of the festival, Sony Picture Classics has acquired all North American, Latin American, and Eastern European rights to Sundance Premiere title “Celeste & Jesse Forever.” Directed by Lee Toland Krieger, the romantic comedy was co-written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, who both star in the film. SPC also bought doc “Waiting for Suger Man.”

“Celeste & Jesse” follows the disintegrating relationship of two high-school sweethearts now in their 30s (Jones and Andy Samberg). She’s a go-getter, he’s a Peter Pan. They decide to divorce and stay friends, but it’s not that simple. The movie also stars Chris Messina, Ari Graynor, Emma Roberts, and Elijah Wood. (Review round-up below.)

AV Club, Noel Murray

If nothing else, Celeste and Jesse Forever proves that Rashida Jones should be a movie star. As Celeste, a Type A personality whose best-friend is her slacker soon-to-be-ex-husband Jesse (played by Andy Samberg), Jones gives a performance comparable to Holly Hunter in Broadcast News: an at once sympathetic and critical take on on the kind of perfectionist who drives away the people she loves.

Hollywood Reporter, Jone DeFore

Jones is great in the part, even if this movie doesn’t quite prove she should be carrying films on her own, and the actress makes her character’s clumsy heartache feel like more than a plot point. Other story elements are less believable, like a subplot involving a sleazy young pop star (Emma Roberts), whose career and personal life suddenly intersect with Celeste’s, but director Lee Toland Krieger keeps things light enough that a touch of implausibility won’t bother many viewers.

Wired, Beth Carter

The script is quick and sharp, and seriously funny at times, but with emotional maturity: Here’s real heartbreak, and here’s how we survive it. Directed by Lee Toland Krieger, the film finds a way of telling a story that seems familiar but evolves into something new. The depth of the characters makes their twisted, insecure attachment so compelling, their love real, and their comedy so infectious. In this way, the movie succeeds where many others have failed.

Collider, Matt Goldberg

The movie does a terrific job of getting us into Celeste’s state of mind by having her desperate to move on and we’re desperate to have her move on because the pacing is starting to drag, the humor is starting to fade away, and the character is becoming too much of a neurotic straight woman… But the movie seriously begins to come apart as it tries to find an ending.  It goes through about five of them before settling on the weakest one.  The different tones do a great job of showing Jones’ range, but they provide an unsatisfying resolution to a story that had dealt with a break-up in such an amusing and charming manner.

Cinema Blend, Katey Rich

Celeste & Jesse Forever’s meandering story means it feels a bit longer than its lean 89 minutes, but there’s enough good stuff in there to be worth it, from Jones and McCormack’s sharp comic writing to brief but memorable supporting turns from Emma Roberts (as a tarted-up pop star) and Elijah Wood as Celeste’s gay coworker. We could have waited a long time for someone else to write a female character as fucked-up and funny and endearing as Celeste, but it took two actors who’ve played all the bad roles out there to finally create one for Jones that’s this good.

Screen Daily, Tim Grierson

Taking a page from recent romantic comedies like No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits that look at unconventional modern relationships, Celeste And Jesse Forever starts off with a juicy premise but ends up coasting on the strength of its two likeable leads. A comedy-drama about a divorcing couple who have managed to remain best friends, the movie suffers from some sitcom-y situations, but the rapport between stars Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg help outweigh the story’s predictability.

Blog Critics

Venturing near “Bridesmaids” hilarity, Rashida Jones has come up with a hilarious and heartfelt film with co-writer Will McCormack (who also happens to play their pot dealing friend in the film). But as for right now, the film could use a little tightening up… Jones throws herself on a more emotional rollercoaster than Samberg, but she sure seems to be keeping the pace in the new race for the women to show they’re just as great at potty humor as the guys are. It’s just that the ladies are bringing along more heart with it which just makes for a greater pay off.

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