Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Chris Messina
Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger (“The Vicious Kind”)
Written by: Rashida Jones (debut) and Will McCormack (debut)
As someone who loathes the conventions and clichés of most modern-day romantic comedies as much as I do, actress/writer/producer Rashida Jones (TV’s “Parks and Recreation”) just might be the perfect woman — at least the perfect woman to spend a day with at the movie theater. Suggest watching something where Katherine Hiegl flips her hair, stumbles around in heels, and falls for a hitman, and she probably wouldn’t be shy about rolling her eyes at the idea.
In the independent rom-com “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” Jones, who co-wrote the screenplay with actor Will McCormack (TV’s “In Plain Sight”), seems to have made a concerted effort with him to avoid what makes many of these boy-meets-girl narratives feel exactly like the one that came before it. “C&JF” isn’t flawless in its attempt by any means, but with some clever dialogue that doesn’t overload on adorableness and an honest performance by Jones herself, there’s enough proof here to believe the genre doesn’t always have to feature a pre-packaged love story.
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger (“The Vicious Kind”), “C&JF” stars Jones and Andy Samberg (“That’s My Boy”) as the title couple going through a divorce but attempting to save the friendship. As a successful marketing trends partner, Celeste has always quietly disapproved of Jesse’s starving-artist lifestyle. “He doesn’t have a checking account or dress shoes,” she criticizes. When both start dating again, the two must come to terms with their break-up by letting go of one another and moving on with their lives.
While the set up sounds like somewhat of a network sitcom, the script takes some unique angles at familiar situations and allows the nerdy chemistry between its leads to play out naturally. Not all rom-coms have to be “When Harry Met Sally” or “Annie Hall,” but it’s nice when they don’t make it a point to be the exact opposite.
Starring: Nicholas D’Agosto, Eric Christian Olsen, Sarah Roemer
Directed by: Will Gluck (debut)
Written by: Freedom Jones (debut)
If debut screenwriter Freedom Jones didn’t seem so vigilant to create the next big movie catchphrase or T-shirt slogan in “Fired Up!,” there might have been more to the teenage-cheerleading-buddy comedy than goofball one-liners and catty shenanigans.
While its touting itself as the anti-cheerleading movie, “Fired Up!,” when stripped down (and we’re not talking about the unexciting skinny-dipping scene) is exactly that. The only difference between it and something like “Bring It On” and its two pointless sequels is that “FU!” plays out more like a parody of something awful instead of just something that’s truly awful.
In the film, actors Nicholas D’Agosto (“Election”) and Eric Christian Olsen (“Dumb and Dumberer”) play best buds Shawn Colfax and Nick Brady, two popular high school football jocks who forgo summer football camp in El Paso, Texas to join up with their less-than-formidable cheerleading squad and attend cheer camp so they can scam on girls.
With over 300 girls and only one straight guy (whose actually there to get earn a cheerleading scholarship) in attendance, Shawn and Nick don’t have much trouble adding notches to their belts as they “leave no girl unturned” during their horny tramping through cheer camp.
While “Fired Up!” could have easily been rated R if Jones were to have done what most teenage comedies do and replace actual dialogue with expletives for shock value, she pulls back and leave the F-bombs behind to get a generous PG-13 designation. Despite the rating, there’s plenty of sexual innuendo and lowbrow humor for those moviegoers who are into the most recent National Lampoon straight-to-DVD flicks that are plaguing your local video store by the dozens.
Still, “Fired Up!” – no matter how admirable it becomes by taking itself less and less serious with each exaggerate scene – is too smart-alecky for its own good. After Shawn says, “You’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit” for the fourth time, it’s evident that Jones and first-time director Will Gluck have heard the jokes far too many times and still considered them just as funny as the first time they read the script. Unfortunately for “Fired Up!” they’re not.