In the new movie Celeste and Jesse Forever, American comic Andy Samberg does what you wouldn't expect of him. The film contains a parody of a raunchy pop song, sung by Emma Roberts' teenage vixen, which is the specialty of the Lonely Island, the comedy trio fronted by Samberg that has kept YouTube's servers humming in the past few years with Dick in a Box, I'm on a Boat and I Just Had Sex. Yet he's not among the credited composers.
Instead Samberg, who recently finished seven years on the American sketch comedy television institution, Saturday Night Live, plays the titular male lead, Jesse, who remains best friends with his former wife, Celeste (Rashida Jones), after the Los Angeles residents divorce, before circumstance slowly but steadily tears them apart.
The film is a romantic comedy that's just as interested in loneliness and drama, which hardly matches Samberg's goofy profile.
''It was a leap of faith on everyone's part to put me in the role,'' Samberg says. ''I felt it was something that I could pull off, but as I was doing it I was really unsure. The main difference between this movie and the other things I've done is that it was a lot less work. I would hold back a lot, make everything smaller, just act as if it was real life and not be insane and over the top.''
Celeste and Jesse Forever was written by Jones, who is best known for television sitcoms such as Parks and Recreation, and Will McCormack, a fellow actor who in the movie plays the couple's affable cannabis dealer. The pair were offered large sums for their much-admired screenplay, on the proviso that established movie stars would play the central couple, but they refused and with director Lee Toland Krieger eventually made the picture on a small independent budget.
''The most exciting thing for Rashida and I was trying things we hadn't got to do on-screen before,'' says Samberg, whose recent roles have included an obscure BBC comedy series titled Cuckoo and a starring turn alongside one of his comic influences, Adam Sandler, in That's My Boy.
''The philosophy I have is to care less about what it is in terms of career building and instead just respond to the material I like and let the chips fall as they may.''
Celeste and Jesse Forever is screening now.
- The Dominion Post
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