Sundance Dispatch #5: Celeste and Jesse and Me and Christina Hendricks Forever

Sundance Dispatch #5: Celeste and Jesse and Me and Christina Hendricks Forever

Jan 21, 2012

Celeste and Jesse ...

Celeste and Jesse Forever, the first highly-anticipated film of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, debuted last night to a mixed crowd. I think because of a cast that includes Rashida Jones, Ari Graynor, Elijah Wood and the silly, over-the-top Andy Samberg, folks were expecting something a bit funnier. But the results, while definitely funny, charming and full of contemporary quirk, lean a bit more toward the dramatic when it hits the home stretch as our two main characters -- longtime best friends who married and are now divorcing -- begin to mature, grow apart and realize that true happiness doesn't come without a little hard work.

Celeste and Jesse Forever doesn't entertain as much as previous Sundance romantic dramedy success stories like 500 Days of Summer or Juno, but it's cute, comfortable and totally watchable. It's what my buddy and I would call a "safety net" movie -- the kind you can't help but flip to when it's on cable because you know it's guaranteed to make you smile and warm your heart. Jones and Samberg's on-screen chemistry is spot-on, and there are definitely enough pop-culture references and in-jokes (Emma Roberts plays a strung-out Miley Cyrus-esque teen pop star whose life eerily mirrors that of the former tween star) to draw in plenty of younger viewers. Plus you'll never look at squeeze-tube lip balm or baby corn the same way ever again. I'd expect this one to get picked up soon and arrive in theaters later this summer.

... and Me and Christina Hendricks Forever

Following yesterday's screenings I ventured onto Main Street for the first time to attend one of those infamous Sundance parties, Gen Art's 7 Fresh Faces in Film bash. It's a great annual party hosted by friends of mine who honor up-and-coming talent featured in some of this year's crop of Sundance films. But for those who think these sorts of parties are full of magical A-list celebrities who parade around the half-empty room sprinkling awesome dust on everyone, it's nothing like that at all. Nope, a Sundance party is just like every other popular party you've ever been to -- the music is too loud, the space is too small, there's nowhere to put your jacket, and everyone you wind up running into is constantly looking around the room to see if there's someone more important they should be talking to.

Except for Christina Hendricks. Yes, that Christina Hendricks.

As I was standing off in a corner near the bar throwing back enough free Stella beers to make the trip out worthwhile, I briefly chatted up the nicest woman who, like me, was sort of surveying the way-too-packed room, searching for a clear path across. She was pretty and sweet, and for a brief moment she made the entire night worth it. Among all these wannabe Hollywood players (including actresses with an assistant for each piece of clothing/electronic equipment/accessory she doesn't want to hold herself), here was this genuine girl who shared my humor for the current predicament we were in together. After a few minutes she said goodbye and disappeared into the crowd, leaving me with enough faith in the human race to make it through the rest of the night. And it wasn't until she was gone that the drunken dude next to me barged over, high-fived me, and said, "Dude, nice going with Christina Hendricks!" Funny how the guy whose job it is to cover people like Hendricks for a living had no idea it was her, but sometimes it's better off that way. Sometimes we're all better off just being a guy and a girl at the back of the bar. 

So, yeah. Thanks Christina Hendricks. You're one of the good ones.


Categories: Film Festivals
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