Chicks got to make up their minds.
Best friends and lovers since high school, Jesse (Andy Samberg) and Celeste (Rashida Jones) got married in their twenties and, after a few years of wedded bliss, woke up to discover that they love each other as pals but not as husband and wife. So Jesse moves on, while Celeste is left to wonder just what the hell did she do.
It’s a surprise that this flick hasn’t gotten a bigger distribution than what it already has, because the material here could probably end up making this a sleeper hit of the late Summer, much like (500) Days of Summer did way back in ’09. No, it’s nothing as brilliant and original as that, but it says the same stuff and makes you feel the same emotions, except there’s no Hall & Oates in this one. That already puts it a step-below.
What I think touched me about this story right off the bat was how honest it was about itself. I don’t know how much Jones and co-writer/co-star Will McCormack have experienced in their lives from the past, but it seems like they know a whole lot about relationships, how you make them work, and sometimes, how you can make them fall-apart just by trying to change that other person. There’s a lot here that speaks out to people who think they are too good for their soul-mate and think that it’s time to call it quits just because they aren’t up-to date with them, as much as they are with everything else in the world. There are plenty of people out there just exactly like that, and 9 times out of 10, those people start to realize that they made a huge mistake because they never once thought that the person they’d tried to get rid of, would eventually come back and be the person they always wanted them to be. It’s a very true testament to not just how relationships work, but people as well, and Celeste and Jesse are no different from that.
What I liked most about this script was how every single part of this flick was set-up as a rom-com cliché. Gay best-friend? Check. Chick that needs to get her love-life back on-track but ultimately fails? Check. Witty best friend that tells it like it is? Check. Big speech at the end where the character tells everybody all that they have been through? Double check. The difference here is that this film sees those conventions, and sort of spins them on its head and give us a true tale of love being lost, love being unrequited, and love almost being found once again. The story I have been describing to you for the past 3 paragraphs now, may seem like a total drag but I can assure you that it’s not. There is a lot of material that is funny here and even though every once and awhile this film will show us something we have seen done before in thousands of other rom-coms, it still feels true to itself and to the situation these characters are in.
By the end, when this story started to show it’s true colors and what it was really trying to say, that’s when I actually started to feel a little emotion here and there. The whole idea of this chick getting fed-up with her old husband because he won’t grow-up and then wants him back, doesn’t seem that sympathetic, but the way it’s played out here makes it seem so and you feel for this Celeste character. Not only is she a very realistic female character that you could easily meet at a bar or somewhere in a downtown night club, she’s also a gal that feels some sort of emotions whenever her feelings are hurt and when she wants to just be loved. You don’t really see female characters in rom-coms go through the type of shit Celeste goes through here, and I think that’s what makes her development as a character, all that much better and smarter.
My problem with this script was that I did feel like they took a little bit too much away from Celeste, just in order to give-up some time to random side characters that could have honestly been cut-out. I liked Elijah Wood as the stereotypical gay boss/best-friend, but he doesn’t add a single thing to this whole product and if they were to get rid of him, I don’t think much would have been missed. Not saying that he’s bad or anything, it’s just that there isn’t much to hold onto when it comes to his character. The same could be said for Emma Roberts who plays a Ke$ha-like teen-star that just wants to rock-out with her whatevers out. Roberts is fine in this role too, but she doesn’t add anything either other than a bunch of dumb dick and butt gags that seem tired by the third time they even mention it. Other characters like Chris Messina as a hopeful boyfriend that will take Celeste out of her funk, and Will McCormick as the stoner buddy named Skillz, are all fun to watch but also seem like another example of this film having too many ideas and too many side characters that eventually take away from Celeste’s real problem at-hand: the chick can’t move on.
Andy Samberg finally gets his real taste at drama and plays it up very well, when he gets the chance to. Samberg, at-first, plays Jesse as his usual jocky, young-minded, goofy persona that always seems to take over his characters but by the end changes it up a bit and starts to grow-up into his own person that is just as confused with what he wants as Celeste is. Jesse’s whole story development seems a little forced (the guy already wants to have a family with this one girl after one date?), but Samberg makes it seem believable with a nice amount of honesty and sensitivity that is unlike anything we have ever seen from him before. It’s not one of those roles that really stands-out and shows that this guy can almost do it all, but it’s a nice way of showing that maybe there is a life for this guy after leaving SNL and doing a shit-fest like That’s My Boy.
The real star of this whole movie, as you probably predicted since she co-wrote it, is Rashida Jones as Celeste. Jones is an actress that we all know can be funny (just watch Parks & Recreation), but she has never really been given that great amount of drama to work with that makes her stand-out from the rest. This performance here is that game-changer for her as Celeste is not only a great character to play, but is also a great performance for Jones where she shows that she can make any character likable and easy to root for just by using her mysterious charm that she has about her. The scenes her and Samberg have are dead-on, as their chemistry is as perfect as you could get it, but when it’s just Jones allowing herself to be shown in such an uncomfortably sad light, it feels real as if Jones is just reliving a past break-up that she still feels terrible about. But even when she has to do the comedy act with her performance as well, she nails it there too and it just shows you that this lady has a very bright future in Hollywood. Hopefully, this is the film that shows it off, too.
Consensus: Celeste and Jesse Forever may suffer from too many ideas and characters but never feels too jumbled up due to a great script that shows the emotional turmoil you go through during heartbreak, as well as what can happen to one person when they realize that the person they got rid of in the first place, was probably the best person for them in the end.
Never thought I would say this, but I missed Tobey.
The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. Oh yeah, and he’s also Spider-Man. Can’t forget about that one, little detail.
Before I start this review off, I have to give a little disclaimer and say that I have a special place in my heart for the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. That’s right, even the 3rd one to an extent. So this review may be a bit biased in some points and if that is the case, I apologize but I just can’t believe they actually went through with this idea. I mean honestly, you couldn’t wait 5 more years!?!?
Anywhoo, what interested me most about this reboot was the fact that it’s helmed randomly by Marc Webb (director of one of my favorite flicks from 2009, ((500) Days of Summer). When people saw JGL (Joseph Gordon-Levitt for all of you noobs out there) walking down the streets, singing and dancing to the tunes of Hall & Oates, I highly doubt the thing on everybody’s mind was “ooh, I wonder how cool that would be with webs shooting out of that guy’s hands”. What I’m trying to say is that Webb (oh wait, now I get it) seemed like a very random and odd choice for this flick, but I can’t say that he doesn’t bring something fun to this film either. All of that quirky, indie style from his debut is lost here but there is still plenty of room for him to relish in the art of telling the Spider-Man story, the way he thinks is right and do what he wants, just as long as he doesn’t piss off all of the fan boys who want to see this.
The film is claiming to be “the untold story”, when in reality, it’s just a re-working on the same origin story we’ve seen before. Like for instance, instead of a Peter Parker being bitten in the lab because he was on a class field trip, he is in there because he secretly, sneaked into an internship meeting there. Or, instead of having Parker just shoot webs from his veins, he now has mechanical webshooters that pretty much do the same thing. These are the types of “re-workings” we see in this flick and it’s not so bad considering a lot of it makes more sense and gives us a better look at why the Spider-Man superhero is so damn popular and loved in the first place. There is a bunch of humor here, some of which, annoyed the hell out of me, but other times worked and gave this film a fun little feel.
Actually, I can’t really bag on this film as much because it seems like that’s all Webb is concerned about here: having fun. And no matter what the story may be, I’m down with that. There’s plenty of cool-looking action scenes where it’s just Spidey, doing his good olde, mono-a-mono showdown between him and a baddy, and some really beautiful scenes where we see him just fly through the sky, where New York City is pretty much his playground. Some real nifty stuff to see and have fun with here, and it’s also enhanced by some amazing-looking CGI that doesn’t really come off as fake. I saw this in 3D Imax and I have to say, it’s pretty good but I wouldn’t go out and pay for it only because there isn’t so much here that’s worth that extra-dimension. Then again, that could be said for a whole bunch of other flicks with that tagline; “in 3D”.
However, as fun as a lot of the action may be, there’s not as much as you would expect, especially when it comes to a Summer blockbuster. Maybe that’s not the right thing to say, because there is plenty of action and adventure for you to sink your teeth into, but then there are also these other, quieter moments where it’s just focusing on Parker and Stacy’s love relationship that are not only awkward as hell to watch, but don’t feature any type of fun dialogue to keep you interested. They sort of just show up, stay on-screen, and bother the hell out of you because you just want to see The Lizard and Spidey duke it out once again. I don’t mind when a film, let alone a superhero film, is trying to go into more depth about its main character, but when it’s done in a flick where you should be expecting, non-stop action all over the place, then that’s where the problem lies. Basically, just too slow for a superhero film.
What is very watchable throughout these boring scenes, is actually the eclectic cast that Webb has brought together and being lead by Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker. Garfield plays a different type of Parker than from what we saw with Tobey Maguire. Instead of coming off as a total nerd, that can’t do anything right because he wears glasses and loves science, Garfield makes him seem like this lost soul that just keeps to himself and doesn’t really care what goes on around him. Yeah, he’s a little strange because he’s always taking pictures of things, but he’s got a certain edge to him that makes him seem a lot cooler than you would expect Peter Parker actually to seem like in the first place. I think that Garfield goes a little too far with his humor in this film, but then again, that can’t really be blamed on him because he’s obviously doing everything in his soul to be the different type of Peter Parker we are used to seeing.
Emma Stone is here as Gwen Stacy, Parker’s apple of his eye, and does a pretty swell job with what she is given and thankfully, as my friend at the screening I was at pointed out, wasn’t playing the usual “damsel in distress” role that we usually see ladies in superhero flicks usually play. She is actually pretty tough and smart, and can stick up for herself whenever the time comes. Her and Garfield have a little awkward chemistry going on here, but I think that’s what’s the point of this flick. Rhys Ifans does a nice job as our villain, The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors. Ifans can always play these bad-guy roles and this one is no different, except his CGI starts to be a little distracting by the end. Actually, it makes him look like The Hulk and I don’t know if Sony wanted that on their hands after all of The Avengers buzz that still seems to be going on. Seriously, how much more money does that movie need to make?
The casting of Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, seemed like an awesome bit of casting because Sheen just has this “old-timer likability” thing going on for him, that it doesn’t matter what role he plays, you love him regardless. That’s why everybody was so shocked when he got thrown off the roof in The Departed, because everybody loves that guy, who would want to do such a mean and cruel thing to him? Sally Field is here as Aunt May and as hard as she may try, she seems too young for an Aunt and all of the advice she gives out, makes it seem like she’s doing Mamma Gump, all over again. Another bit of inspired casting was actually Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, mainly because the guy shows that he still has the comedic chops to pull off some very funny moments, but can also make a rather, deuchy character, still likable and understandable.
Despite all of these awesome and great elements that this film featured (action, acting, humor, CGI, special effects, etc.), I still couldn’t get past the Sam Raimi movies, and I’ll tell you exactly why. I’m 18 right now, so I was about 7 when the first one came out and I loved it to death. Then that second one came out, and gee-goll-e, did that knock my socks off even more! Then that third one came out, and even though it was definitely not on-par with the other two that came before it, it was still fun and endearing enough to keep me locked on to what was going to happen next with Peter Parker. Honestly, that original series from Raimi will always be in my childhood and I was so mad when they decided to go through with this reboot, really I was. It was a total cash-grab, in my opinion, and as fun as this film may be, I still couldn’t stop thinking about the original flicks. Whenever Garfield was flying through the sky, I kept on thinking about Tobey doing the same thing. Whenever Uncle Ben would show up, I kept on thinking about Cliff Robertson delivering the all-time famous line, ”With great power comes great responsibility”. And whenever somebody mentioned Oscorp, Willem Dafoe automatically popped right into my head. Really, the memories from all of my movie-watching from back in the day really made me miss those flicks and also made me want to go watch them again. So maybe this flick wasn’t for me since I loved the originals so much, but honestly, I just wish they never went through this in the first-place. Or at least waited 5 more years so that everybody’s minds were fresh and clear of Raimi and Maguire. Miss them already.
Consensus: The Amazing Spider-Man is exactly what you come to expect from a superhero flick: fun, action-packed, wild and crazy set pieces, baddies doing bad things, goodies doing good things, romantic love story, and some little shots of humor to liven everything up. Problem is, this is a reboot of a series that has already had its movies, and were ones that still stay stuck in my mind no matter what.