It's supposed to exemplify witty, edgy, indie comedy. But "Celeste and Jesse Forever" turns out to be a formula movie, the formula being the slickly saccharine, Judd Apatow-style joke-o-rama with just enough young-adult angst in the mix to pass it off as something substantial. Written by very likable actress Rashida Jones, "Celeste and Jesse Forever" mixes thwarted romance with character analysis -- Celeste, in short, is a control freak -- to awkward effect, although there are enough giggles to satisfy audiences looking for an untaxing 90 minutes of pseudo-sophistication and a smattering of bad taste.
It catches the viewer off-guard, but when the amicable Celeste and Jesse are introduced, they've already broken up: She's an L.A. marketing pro; he's an unemployed artist (among the movie's nouveau conventions is that the man must be jobless). She's tired of waiting for him to get his act together, but they both feel the relationship will repair itself -- until Jesse discovers he's about to become a father, after a one-night stand with the beautiful Veronica (Rebecca Dayan) and decides to do the right thing. Celeste starts to lose her grip, begins dating other men -- including musician-model Rupert (Rafi Gavron) and yoga instructor Paul (Northport's ubiquitous Chris Messina) -- while struggling with her angst over the impending divorce.
Jones is a talent, and an easy-to-take screen presence (Samberg is something else), but watching "Celeste and Jesse Forever" gives you the feeling someone's trying to put something over on you. Granted, there's a lot of deliberately ironic nods to rom-com and sitcom conventions being played out here, notably the casting of Elijah Wood as Celeste's advice-spouting gay friend. But you don't always get the sense that the movie's laughing with you.
PLOT A couple tries to remain best friends even after their marriage breaks up. RATING R (language, sexual content, drug use)
BOTTOM LINE Tiresome, despite the occasional laugh.