Although professing to still be best friends, Celeste (Jones), a Type A trends watcher with her own marketing company and newly published non-fiction hardback, is pushing for release from husband Jesse (Samberg), a slacker artist living in his converted garden shed studio in the backyard. Under these conditions, Jesse cries frequently and harbors hope for reconciliation, yet he’s the first to date outside the marriage and through a chance meeting learns that a dalliance from three months previous will soon make him a father. Seeing Jesse’s newfound maturity in the face of this news, Celeste decides she may have been too hasty in her decision to boot him out of her life.
The storyline does focus more on Celeste’s reaction to the breakup than Jesse’s. Still, it never seems to reveal her true personality. Celeste is never allowed to really wallow or go off the deep end. She spirals out of control by smoking a little pot and putting her hair in a messy ponytail. One of her work projects has an undesired subliminal message, and she gives a slightly embarrassing speech at her friend’s wedding. But there’s nothing final, revelatory or changing here. Think of Kristen Wiig’s chocolate fountain breakdown in Bridesmaids.
Overall, the film is uneven and shallow. Celeste has friends who never break their stereotype or through her cool shell. Emma Roberts is dragged out as a Britney Spears-type pop star who has the best insight into Celeste, but it’s not used to any lasting effect. The rest of the ensemble is window dressing, particularly Elijah Wood, who is awkward in his gay forcefulness. McCormack gives a turn as a creepy but sweet potential suitor, but that also ends going nowhere. It’s impossible to root for Celeste because she has no desire. She wants Jesse back just because she can’t have him anymore. It’s not real. She goes on a few dates, she finds a new market, she keeps her emotions in check. She’s neither likable nor really unlikable. And in a movie that hangs on her every move, that makes us all stuck in her “dark, little prison.”