Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Movies, Comedy
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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

In some lights, he’s handsome—almost classically so—but is there another actor more squirmy and strange in face than Steve Carell? Look at the guy. This is his gift:
a fragile quality of unpersuasive manhood that carried him brilliantly through The 40 Year Old Virgin and The Office. But in Carell’s latest (a mostly somber end-of-the-world drama), we’re asked to accept him in a Von Trier–like asteroid-imminent scenario that just feels off. His character, Dodge, is not a sad-eyed comedy everyhero, but a doomed loner, partially reaching out to his flighty upstairs neighbor, Penny (Keira Knightley), the two of them trekking on an ominous road trip to reconnect with Dodge’s ex-girlfriend as the world approaches its tombstone.

The casting is spectacularly wrong, and even on its own scant merits, writer-director Lorene Scafaria’s screenplay has little insight into apocalyptic licentiousness, barring a tart line or two. (“Nobody’s anybody’s anything anymore,” says a friend’s flirtatious wife, but the scene hangs in tonal limbo.) Do we applaud the risk? Not when our takeaway includes such carpe diem banalities as: Listen to those old vinyl records and savor them. Or: Go hang out on the beach with a bunch of serene strangers in robes. The movie is way too gauzy to contain a serious comment; nowhere is this felt more than at the moment when mighty Martin Sheen shows up as Dodge’s deadbeat dad, stumbling in a conversation with Carell’s stammering manchild. Who is going to mourn these trite types? Sometimes, asteroids have the right idea.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday June 22 2012
Duration: 101 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Lorene Scafaria
Screenwriter: Lorene Scafaria
Cast: Leslie Murphy
Keira Knightley
Steve Carell
Melanie Lynskey

Average User Rating

4 / 5

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In 21 days an asteroid will pummel into the planet Earth and life as we know it will end.  How will you spend your time?  Ready?  Go!

In this pre-apocalyptic comedy, we follow Dodge (Steve Carell) and Penny (Kiera Knightly) as they try to fulfill their last wishes.  Him, to find his long lost love and her to get to England to say goodbye to her parents.

On their road tripping adventure they encounter every facet of human grief: violent riots, mass Baptisms, paid-assassin-style-suicide and the exuberantly high staff (T.J. Miller and Gillian Jacobs) at “Friendsies”, a Fridays/Friendly’s hybrid.

Seeking is a hilarious ride packed with cameos of A-list comedians.  Rob Cordry and Connie Britton host a debaucherous last supper where Cordry encourages the kids to chug martinis and play with fireworks.  Someone whips out a bag of heroin and Patton Oswalt gleefully makes a beeline for it shouting “Bucket list!”.   Melanie Lynskey arrives in a ridiculous tiara/fur/gown ensemble and shyly says “It’s everything I never wore.”  When the dinner table shares how they plan to spend the next three weeks, they range from the mundane “I’m finally going to take that pottery class.” to Amy Schumer’s joyful matter-of-fact “I’m going to tell my father off.  Then go skiing!”

Carrell shines in any role where he isn't an over the top cartoonish character (see: Evan Almighty) and where he can showcase subtle depth (see: Dan in Real Life).  Try to catch this Netflix-streamable flick before it’s gone.  Otherwise you’ll be like Dodge, cheerfully resigned and confessing to your overly dedicated housekeeper "I regret my entire life!"