Celeste & Jesse Forever – LFF Review

Celeste and Jesse Forever

I have long been both impressed and more than a bit suspicious of people who manage to stay friends with their exes. In my experience, many try and few succeed – and the two necessary ingredients to be one of the few is time and distance. Not that Celeste (Rashida Jones, who was also co-writer) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) were paying any attention to my sage advice when they decided to get divorced. Not least because they are fictional.

Celeste and Jesse’s relationship is established in the montage over the opening credits and they’ve broken up long before the first line of dialogue. They’re just not acting like it. Even if high-flying “trendspotter” Celeste had grown tired of artist Jesse’s apparent lack of motivation, they’re still best friends and happiest in each other’s company. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t conducive to moving on.

The breath of fresh air that blows through this rom-com (or should that be post-rom-com?) is that it does away with one of the big failings of the genre: the will they, won’t they? question, almost always answered with yes, of course they will, is neatly sidestepped. Here, Celeste and Jesse already have. The question that will keep you guessing right to the end, is will they again? And more importantly, should they? While I really wanted good things to happen to both Celeste and Jesse, I couldn’t decide whether a reconciliation was the good thing I wanted.

The film would have fallen flat without the brilliant chemistry that Jones and Samberg have onscreen but they have you rooting for them from scene one. They’re funny and charming, with dialogue that’s always pitch perfect and both are skilled physical comedians. While the supporting cast are all likeable, the central pair are definitely the stars, not even upstaged by Elijah Wood as Celeste’s business partner, who’s trying and failing to be her sassy gay friend. This should be a relief to Rashida Jones who was so fed up with always playing the best friend in films that she decided to write herself a lead role.

There are some flaws – the sideplot featuring Riley Banks, Celeste’s teen pop star client, is resolved in a bit too neat a fashion and their lifestyles are oh so glamorous all the time – but C+JF is both funny and romantic, which is what you want out of a romantic comedy and yet so rarely get.

Mild Concern vs BFI London Film Festival

The Muppets – BlogalongaMuppets 7

Over 12 years since their last cinematic release, and over 30 years since The Muppet Show finished on the small screen, the Muppets have split up, their studios have fallen into disrepair and Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) wants to buy the land to drill for oil. Enter Walter (a puppet/Muppet?) and Gary (Jason Segel), a pair of brothers determined to help reunite the Muppets and raise the $10 million they need to save their studio. Given two hours of primetime TV to hold a telethon by a desperate studio exec (Rashida Jones), the gang have just days to put together a revival of The Muppet Show.

Amy Adams is also in the cast as Gary’s fiancée in a wholly redundant sub-plot about nothing much at all, but I’ll mostly be ignoring that part of the film. Other criticisms (let’s get them out of the way) include the fact that the premise of a telethon allows for a few too many brief celebrity cameos, and that some jokes are better in the set-up than the execution – the Muppet collecting montage is a prime example. The Muppets is also guilty of overusing green screen to get the Muppets in a variety of locations and doing things impossible for a puppet to do. I understand this can save time and money but it also takes away from the rustic charm of the Muppets.

Griping over.

At its heart The Muppets is one great big love letter to the Muppets. The film is a celebration of our favourite felt-based friends and acknowledges the TV and film heritage they have created. This is most evident in this instalment’s connections to 1979’s The Muppet Movie, not only is one song from this film reprised on-stage but the Standard Rich and Famous Contract, which the Muppets receive at the end of The Muppet Movie, serves as the Maguffin in The Muppets. This is roughly as intellectual as I can get.

Present but never overused is the standard Muppet meta-humour, the characters are aware that this is a film, and after the disappointment of Muppets from Space, the songs are back. And what amazing songs! Man or Muppet truly deserves to win the Oscar for Best Original Song. It is clear that Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords wrote the songs as they have that distinct Conchordian sound, and are all the better for it. My acid test for a musical is whether or not the songs are in my head the next day, and Man or Muppet was ringing loud and clear in my brain for the rest of the week. Job done.

There is so much to love about this film that the few flaws are easily forgiven and The Muppets ends up being a superior production to the early Muppet films it is paying tribute to. I left the cinema with a massive grin on my face, a song in my heart and a skip in my step. There was also a book in my bag, but this is unrelated.

The Muppets is a joy, made for the fans but surely just as enjoyable for the uninitiated.

Only one question remains about The Muppets, where the hell was Rizzo!?

Muppet Movie Ranking:
1. The Muppet Christmas Carol
2. Muppet Treasure Island
3. The Muppets
4. The Muppets Take Manhattan
5. The Great Muppet Caper
6. The Muppet Movie
7. Muppets from Space

Fave Actors Cast in Films. Shocker!

Gotta love it when those actors you love get some casting news.

First of all Zooey Deschanel has been cast in Idiot Brother about an idealist, Paul Rudd, who visits his three sisters played by Deschanel, Emily Mortimer and Elizabeth Banks. So far it sound like another Broken Flowers or Everybody’s Fine if possibly a little broader. The internet is all aflutter over the fact that Deschanel’s character is bisexual and has a girlfriend played by Rashida Jones, because the internet is twelve.

Even more excitingly Joseph Gordon-Levitt is continuing his long journey to becoming a major star in huge movies as he is, in a very indefinite way, in talk to play The Riddler in Batman 3. Films with JGL in are fast becoming guaranteed must-sees for me. Could I be more excited? Yes, but that would involve a feather boa and the theme to A Summer Place.