'Celeste & Jesse' a case of squandered potential
Reel Life mini-review: 'Celeste & Jesse Forever'
Here's another romantic comedy (with serious dramatic overtones) where the main cast could be verbally crippled simply by eliminating two words: "Awesome!" and "Great!"
In "Celeste & Jesse Forever," "SNL" star Andy Samberg and "Parks and Recreation" star Rashida Jones demonstrate they've got considerable dramatic chops as the title couple, a terminally cute pair so spiritually connected that they can virtually read each other's thoughts as they complete each other's sentences.
You'd never guess they're divorced after a six-year marriage.
"C&J," nimbly written by Jones and Will McCormack, strives oh-so-hard to thwart our expectations and does a reasonably good job.
But the painfully self-aware main characters — she's an overachieving Type A futurist trendspotter and he's a no-achieving type F freeloader — wear out their welcome way too early in this sincere story about true best friends who should have never married.
We suspect — based on previous movie conventions — they will get back together soon. Then the complications pile up.
Jesse learns he's to be a dad after a one-night dalliance with a beautiful stranger (Rebecca Dayan), whom he feels obligated to marry.
Celeste says she's cool with this plan as she struggles to date inferior suitors, such as her persistent yoga partner (Chris Messina) and a strange, guitar-playing model (Rafi Gavron).
"C&J," directed with measured fleetness by Lee Toland Krieger, still traffics in a plethora of verbal and visual clichés, plus falls back on using a standard gay confidante (supplied here by Elijah Wood).
One of Dr. Phil's mantras even pops up in the dialogue when Messina's yoga guy tells Celeste, "Do you want to be right? Or happy?"
"Celeste & Jesse Forever" — or more accurately "Mostly Celeste & Not So Much Jesse Forever" — opens at the Century Centre in Chicago and the Evanston CineArts 6. Rated R for drug use, language, sexual situations. 89 minutes. ★ ★
Join me for the grand opening of the 10th annual Flashback Weekend Chicago Horror Convention at 9:20 p.m. Friday when I officially welcome fans with a special best-of Flashback Weekend reel.
At around 9:30 p.m. at the Muvico Theater, 9701 Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont, I'll introduce the star of the convention, "Halloween" director John Carpenter, who will show and discuss his creepy 1982 remake of Howard Hawks' "The Thing."
Other guests will be the immortal Linda Blair, Tony Todd, Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton (stars of Chicago director Stuart Gordon's "The Re-Animator"), plus cast members from the many "Friday the 13th" movies.
Go to flashbackweek.com for schedules, tickets and information.
Congrats to winners!
Congrats to the winners at the 6th annual Arlington Heights Teen Film Fest at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre last Sunday.
All winners live in Arlington Heights, except for Des Plaines filmmaker Anders Gustafson, who won Best Overall Film for his crazy, genre-mashing "Titanic 2 Trailer."
• Rosa Weiss won Best Music Video for her haunting song and visuals to "Original Song — Just Another Face."
• Daniel Carpenter won Best Acting for the amusing fantasy "Imaginary Warfare."
• Dennis Gainulin won Best Use of an A.H. Landmark for his documentary "Arlington Heights: 125 Years of Progress."
• Arlan Fitzgerald won Best Cinematography for his documentary "Time Lapse Suburbia."
• Robert Kraybill won Best Horror Film for his frightening "Dementia."
These won out of a record 27 entries. Check out the winners at ahml.info/teens/blogs/6th-ah-teen-film-fest-winners and at facebook.com/HUB500.
Reel Life critics notes
• Bad news for moviegoers interested in "The Apparition." The press screening for the horror tale is Aug. 23, the night before its Aug. 24 opening and after newspaper deadlines. We all know what that means, don't we? Yep, Warner Bros. thinks "The Apparition" is a stinker. You can still see the very scary trailer at http://bit.ly/JT1nY6
• The After Hours Film Society presents the French crime drama "Polisse," distilled from 150 hours of raw footage, about a police unit assigned to handling crimes against children. It's at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Tivoli Theater, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. Admission costs $9. ($5 for members). Go to afterhoursfilmsociety.com or call (630) 534-4528 for information.
• Former Arlington Heights resident Collin Souter's movie "March April" will play at the Second Annual Prairie State Film Festival at 12:45 a.m. Saturday at the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Local actor and comedian Jayson Bernard serves as emcee. Go to prairiestatefilmfest.com/schedule for tickets and schedule.
• You know him as Mini-Me from the Austin Powers spoofs. Verne Troyer will introduce the Mike Myers comedies "The Spy Who Shagged Me" and "Goldmember" this weekend at both the Hollywood Boulevard in Woodridge and the Hollywood Palms in Naperville. Go to atriptothemovies.com for schedules and tickets.
• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!
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