The writer and actor deserves her place in Hollywood's comedy inner circle
It's nice to see Rashida Jones finally asserting herself. With Celeste And Jesse Forever, she not only co-stars for the first time, opposite SNL's ditzy Andy Samberg, but she's also the co-writer of a script composed with ex-boyfriend Will McCormack (their own "Forever" lasted three weeks). I've loved Jones since she was on Boston Public over a decade ago, when I had no idea she was the daughter of Quincy Jones and Mod Squad star Peggy Lipton. I've loved her even more since she played snarky dreamboat Karen Filippelli, Jim Halpert's in-between-times girlfriend on The Office. Her days of sitcom guest-star arcs and third-tier movie cameos yielded fruit when Amy Poehler cast her in Parks And Recreation, and Celeste And Jesse Forever is surely her reward for all that toil.
Celeste And Jesse's balance of humour and emotional realism is a little awry, and yet another strong career woman suffers for insufficient devotion to her useless layabout boyfriend. On the other hand, I laughed a lot. Ultimately, though, I am less interested in the movie's virtues than I am in its position in a comedy landscape that was totally redefined â" and totally repopulated â" in the aftermath of movies like Anchorman and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and TV shows such as Freaks And Geeks, Veronica Mars and Party Down.
You can take the casts and writing staff of all those shows and movies and find their bastard spawn everywhere in modern American comedy. Freaks And Geeks alone, in addition to non-writer James Franco, gave us screenwriter-performers Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. Add the enduring presence of comedy forcing house Saturday Night Live, which gave us Tina Fey (and thus 30 Rock), Poehler (thus Parks And Rec), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Samberg and Will Ferrell, and soon the interconnections between actors and writers and actor-writer-directors, and between TV shows and movies with matching casts, become almost unfathomably incestuous.
I mean that almost literally; just Google half of these stars and you'll find that they've all been married to, dated and/or split up with the other half â" and every one of them has either been in one or more movies with movement sweetheart Paul Rudd or was at some point Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell's roommate.
The best of what results from all this maniacal cross-pollination is American comedy gold, like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad, The Office, Parks And Rec and Party Down. The worst of it, like Your Highness and I Love You Man, suggests that the further the ripples spread away from the dropped rock, the patchier the comedic returns. Celeste And Jesse Forever, whatever its flaws, is nearer to the golden centre than these, and I gladly welcome Rashida Jones, on a probationary basis, to the top table.ComedyJohn Patterson
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