Lorene Scafaria‘s take on the end of the world is vastly different from most of the Apocalyptic Hollywood movies we see. Her asteroid movie Seeking A Friend For the End Of The World doesn’t involve an army of drillers sent into space to rescue planet Earth. Instead, this first time director takes a magnifying glass and looks closely at what two regular folks would do if the world was ending.
As an asteroid nears Earth, Dodge (Steve Carell) finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley), who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.
- Keira Knightley: It’s nice to see Keira Knightley strip away from ornate gowns and slip into something more modern and fun. Her performance here isn’t flawless, but there are a handful of moments where her charm shines through. In one particular scene, she tries to convince a dedicated police officer to pardon her slow driving. Though he doesn’t fall for her fast-talking charm, we do. Knightley usually portrays some very serious characters, often times with a very tough exterior, but here she’s vulnerable and soft. She should add more roles like these to her resume.
- The Chemistry (Part 1): Carell and Knightley have good onscreen chemistry. Carell’s Dodge, a wet blanket of a character, is a good balance to Knightley’s outgoing Penny. There’s also an interesting age-gap between them that brings to mind the good old romantic movies when someone as young as Audrey Hepburn could fall in love with Cary Grant, without it feeling weird.
- Unique Take On Apocalypse: Scafaria, who both wrote and directed Seeking A Friend, should be praised for giving an apocalypse story a new spin. They need all not be too serious or blockbuster-y, folks. Our two leads are not out to save the planet or rebuild civilization. They are trying to make up for all of the time they spent loving the wrong people. Scafaria’s story raises a few good questions. What would you do if you knew the end of the world was near? Would you spend it pigging out? Sleeping with whomever? Connecting with people you never bothered to bond with? Seeking A Friend dabbles with a little bit of this and that, but ultimately rests on connection and, of course, love.
- The End: Though the movie has its fair share of cheesy moments and it’s not as funny as advertised, the Titanic-inspired ending is very satisfying.
- Steve Carell: Carell is trading in goofy for serious. But his Dodge is awfully similar to Cal Weaver in Crazy. Stupid. Love, and again he’s a bored and depressed husband who gets dumped by his wife. At some point you begin to wonder what Penny sees in a guy as dull as Dodge. He’s not charismatic or ambitious. And Carell does nothing to change that.
- The Chemistry (Part 2): Despite the good chemistry between Carell and Knightley, the actual relationship between their characters is hard to believe. Dodge is a middle-aged man who wears cargo pants and dwells in his misery, while Penny is a pot-smoking, record-loving English beauty. Yes, opposites attract, but in this case, it feels like these two get together out of desperation and not actual love.
- Limited Laughs: Adam Brody, Patton Oswalt and Rob Corddry drop in as guests stars and offer some laughs, but their screen time is very limited. So don’t expect much from the comic ringers, or you’ll be disappointed.
Seeking A Friend offers a fun spin on a tiresome tale about the end of days. It’s not about saving the world, it’s about making the best with the time you’ve got left. Knightley shines in a role we rarely get to see her in, though Carell gives more of the same. This is a movie with limited laughs, but good intentions and a big heart. You won’t regret watching it.
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World opens in theaters Friday, June 22.
Will you watch Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World?