Celeste and Jesse were friends since high school, got married relatively young, and were Happily Married for years. Eventually, though, their careers diverge and they grow apart. They decided to split up, but remain close and have few or no hard feelings about it all.
The movie begins when they are out to dinner with mutual friends Beth and Tucker, a couple who are engaged themselves, and can't handle how weird it is that Celeste and Jesse are trying to remain friends. Over the course of the movie, it gets even weirder. Celeste's career becomes more and more demanding and she struggles to return to the dating scene, while Jesse moves on to a new girlfriend and begins to settle down surprisingly quickly, so quickly that they both struggle to adapt.
This film includes examples of:
- Accidental Innuendo: Invoked. Celeste's company creates a logo that resembles a dick going into a butt. It ends up getting the singer they were trying to promote a gay fandom
- Advertised Extra: In promotional materials, Andy Samberg's Jesse has equal billing to Rashida Jones' Celeste. In the movie itself, Celeste gets far more screen time and has much more of a Character Arc.
- All Take and No Give: Celeste calls Jesse out for the fact that she did everything for him while waiting for him to grow out. Jesse counters this by pointing out that this meant he was never truly her equal — and that he thinks she secretly liked it that way.
- Amicable Exes: A deconstruction. Everyone thinks Celeste and Jesse are weird for being so amicable, though they themselves don't think it's weird. Until it is. Bit of a Decon-Recon Switch, in that while they ultimately remain on good terms, developing some distance from each other is ultimately beneficial for them in moving on.
- Bad Date: Celeste has a whole montage full.
- Bitter Wedding Speech: Not bitter, exactly, Celeste has nothing but good feelings towards Beth and Tucker, but she's drunk while speaking and there's definite Subtext about her own relationship.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Celeste and Jesse's German accent inside joke.
- Double Date: The film opens with what looks like an example of this—except Celeste and Jesse are actually divorced. They just act like they're still together.
- Granola Guy: Jesse turns into one. Almost every character is kind of granola-y, due to being middle-class Californians.
- Highschool Sweethearts: Celeste and Jesse married each other fresh out of high school, which is one of the reasons why their break-up is so rocky.
- Hollywood, California: Most of the movie is set there, and it shows. Almost every scene includes yoga, vegan cooking, pot-smoking, or some combination of those.
- Manchild: Jesse has a few of these tendencies, although he grows up a bit over the course of the movie. The movie plays with it, however, in that while Jesse's immaturity does cause some problems, the breakdown of his relationship with Celeste is caused just as much (if not possibly more) by her Control Freak tendencies and selfishness.
- Sex with the Ex: Celeste and Jesse indulge in a little of this after failed Ikea-furniture construction. It doesn't work out well.
- Sherlock Scan: As a trend forecaster, Celeste pulls one off on Paul ("Yoga Guy").Celeste: You traded in your Porsche for an Audi because the economy is tanking and youre afraid youll lose your job soon. You bought a Droid because you think it makes you seem morebusiness oriented, unlike the iPhone which is for teenage girls. You go to yoga because you went to a sub Ivy League college, spent the last ten years working long weeks and drinking all weekend and you feel like its time to do something spiritual. Nice to meet you, (looks at the card) Paul.
- He later says that she was right, except that he actually did go to an Ivy League school
- The Stoner: Skillz. Jesse. Then Celeste.
- Straight Gay: Scott. Amusingly, whenever he tries to be a Camp Gay, it just unnerves both Celeste and himself.
- Will They or Won't They?: In the end, Celeste pulls herself together a bit, finally has a not-too-awkward conversation with Jesse, and calls a guy she gone on a date with earlier in the movie. They don't get back together.