Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – Film Review
TITLE: Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World
STARRING: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Rob Corddry, Patton Oswalt
DIRECTOR: Lorene Scafaria
STUDIOS: Focus Features, Mandate Pictures, Indian Paintbrush
RUN TIME: 101 min
RELEASED: June 22, 2012
By Seth Miller,
Staff Writer, Part-Time Ninja
What would you do if the world were going to end? Some would fulfill their lifelong dreams; see sights they haven’t seen before, etc. So many movies about asteroids coming to Earth involve some ludicrous science and schemes to pull our asses out of the fire, with a ton of nuclear weapons, overly sentimental scenes, and Aerosmith providing the music. Nobody ever really deals with the people just trying to live through it or living it up in the face of Armageddon. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World deals with two people trying to do that one last thing before the world ends, and what they discover on their journey.
Dodge (Carell) is just a run of the mill insurance salesman who plays it safe when he hears the news of an asteroid on the way to destroy the Earth. His wife leaves him, his job is done, his friends are living it up like there is no tomorrow, and Dodge is alone. He meets his bohemian neighbor Penny (Knightley) who can’t get home to her family in the UK to say goodbye; and receives a letter from his long lost love that inspires him to see her before the asteroid hits. Promising Penny access to a plane to get back to her family, the two make a journey to put the finishing touches on their lives on this world.
The film has been advertised as a sort of odd comedy about the end of the world. While there are some great moments of comedy in a scenario you wouldn’t expect, it is more romantic dramedy bordering on full-on drama, so don’t go into this expecting laughs for the entire time, but it is still worth watching. The focus is the charming yet doomed relationship of Dodge and Penny, and the film never loses sight of that. Carell and Knightley play the standard romantic comedy characters of a straight laced guy and free spirited gal. But their performances are nicely crafted to give people a glimpse into the human side of them that produces two interesting characters you would want to watch endure the end of the world.
What is really interesting about the film is the way that it examines what people do with their last days. Some kill themselves, some drink and do drugs, some riot, some reconcile and almost all have an unquantifiable amount of sex; all seem like obvious things people would do, but there seems to be something hollow about all these things. In the end, two people forming a meaningful connection and enduring all the world has to offer in its final days is the most potent and powerful to show the cruel unfeeling universe that we exist. This is a strong narrative that first time director Lorene Scafaria pulls off to great effect.
There are still problems that hold it back, in my opinion. The biggest thing is that the ending drags longer than it really should and the overall effect of the very end feels lessened by a much more depressing than intended feeling, not to mention just plain boring. There is some good world building on display at first, but it disappears as the movie goes on. There could have been a bit more comedy to help make the later half of the film, which is a lot less humorous, a bit more balanced. Some scenes to display the variety of crazy in this world feel unnecessary.
The end result is still a film that, even with problems, is funny when it needs to be and deeply moving.
Images from rottentomatoes.com.