Scott Marks 3:30 p.m., Dec. 24
Celeste and Jesse Forever
1) In order to boost sales, a young author and some friends visit a bookstore and loudly attempt to give her tome better shelf placement. 2) Two strangers exchange funny jabs after one attempts to cut in line at a Starbucks. 3) A date with a Gap model ends in disaster when the couple returns home to seal the deal only to find his ex inside a dumpster digging through the trash. Skits likely to air during the last ten minutes of SNL or three of about a dozen sketches that amount to Celeste and Jesse Forever? (Please don't let on if you think the title of this sinking ship is in any way a tribute to Jacques Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating.) What with Take This Waltz, Dark Horse, and now C&J, it's been Arrested Development August at local art houses. Directed by relative unknown Lee Toland Krieger and cowritten by Will McCormack and star Rashida Jones, what had the makings of a tuned-in romcom quickly evolves into a hipster's Annie Hell. Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are happily separated. She runs a successful media consulting firm while he enjoys the fruits of unemployment. In spite of their pending divorce, Jesse still occupies the studio behind Celeste's home and the couple spends a good deal of their non-working hours together. Adam Sandler isn't given an "Additional Baby Talk by" credit, but his influence is felt in every one of his protege's eye-rolls and winking horse-toothed grins. Not unlike his mentor, Samberg does his best work between commercials and while the film is much more about Celeste than Jesse, the infantile skit-comic brings so little to the table it's a wonder Celeste can bear to occupy a frame of film with him, let alone a six-year marriage. Jones is a charming and very talented presence, but you can't tell by this shrill performance. If Samberg exudes a sort of sedated inner child, Jones is all about melancholy lightly sprinkled with flecks of neurotic ardor. There's nothing here that we haven't already experienced in dozens of similar comedies on the art of postmodern putzdom. As a co-scenarist she quickly proves capable of writing a film about characters audiences won't like. If only Jones knew it and played it as a strength instead of wasting our time trying to pass these lip balm-masturbating miscreants off as anything but disagreeable. No spoilers here other than to say what happens to their two leads is Jones and McCormack's bid for cutting-edge irreverence. The punishment fits the crimes these two committed in the name of love, but if you gambled on Dark Horse and accepted Sarah Polley's invitation to Waltz, Forever will feel like an eternity. 2012.