Writer-director Lorene Scafaria’s “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a movie whose title pretty much says it all. I expected ever since the Mayan prediction of the apocalypse on Dec. 2012 that a lot of movies would capture the premise of how people would react to an approaching doomsday. “4:44 Last Day on Earth” (which I will review later) was the first one I’ve seen with this premise, and so, there was no surprise that I would allow myself to get dragged along to see this film about a coming doomsday. I guess there is a certain attraction with this kind of dark premise. “Seeking a Friend” centers around two people and how their last days changes the way they are and how they see certain things. Scafaria’s film does however, wrap the premise around something very simple and yet there comes something quite meaningful from the way her story unfolds.
When news of an asteroid is headed for earth and the failure of a mission to divert its path, Dodge (Steve Carrell) finds himself alone when his wife flees in panic and disappears into the night. He decides to keep it cool and just treat everything as a ‘one day at a time’ kind of deal, that is until, an attractive neighbor named Penny (Keira Knightley) comes into his life who see things a different way. Penny and Dodge is now taking a road trip to try and reunite Dodge with the ‘girl who got away’, just so he can re-capture that feeling of lost love. But sometimes, things do not go as planned, and the two may find themselves a little different in the two weeks before the asteroid collides with earth.
“Seeking a Friend” had been advertised as a comedy-drama, but honestly the film plays more like a “feel good” drama. Sure, there is something humorous with the way our protagonists go around on their road trip, and the writing was able to bring forth some very subtle and gloomy sense of humor to take from the darkness of its premise. It is indeed a world where people try to keep their sanity. From Parties, to break ups, after fleeing the riot outside their apartment, then we see Penny and Dodge go into one town to the next, they meet people and sometimes they encounter an obstacle or two. These encounters are actually what made the movie interesting (aside from the exchanges between Penny and Dodge), Scafaria was able to incorporate certain things that would make a lot of sense, and the writing was able to develop them inside the viewpoint of two people.
Just how would people go about preparing for doomsday? Well, the direction takes the viewer on a trip to have its audience have a look. It wasn't so much as the devices were original, but the way it was done in the screenplay was fresh and felt really honest. There are the ones who would party and leave the restrictions of the law, society and yes, even of morality. Some people would seek suicide while some would rather have the deed done for them. Some folks would look for God and baptism, while some would like to spend their last days with someone and maybe tie up some loose ends. It is all about how people would react to a stressful time in their lives. The film is about Penny and Dodge, how they try to keep things together, however, the direction was able to make the film a lot more about two people trying to make the most of their remaining days.
I guess a movie such as this would be easy to allow to wallow inside a box of perfunctory elements, but the writing was able to add certain characters that had a feeling of sincerity around them. It was all about how everyone would react and the supporting cast was quite good in fleshing out the elements that can drive certain people to do certain things. I guess, I have to mention William Petersen who played an unnamed trucker, the people in the restaurant and Connie Britton who plays the wife of Dodge’s friend (Rob Corddry). Penny’s boyfriend played by Adam Brody and the survivalist played by Derek Luke…these characters expressed the emotions and reactions of how people are and they are defined by the situation. They also served to give dimensions to our two leads, and you somehow get to form an attachment to Penny and Dodge through their interactions and through a glimpse from their past.
For a film like this to succeed, Knightley and Carrell will have to get a strong chemistry going on between them. I mean, the chemistry was there but it was intentionally done to be a little shaky at first, as to bring about their age difference into the screenplay. Knightley did perform admirably and she knew how to dictate a scene, in many ways her character made Dodge a lot more interesting, even though it can be argued that the Dodge character was the better written of the two. Their exchanges were humorous and sometimes even heartfelt, they fed off each other to bring great emotions into the scenes. Martin Sheen made a short, subtle impact in the film’s final act and this was the defining moment of the movie.
I guess I can say that I liked the film. “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” did hit the right spots, but I honestly felt that the film had some minor pacing issues especially in the middle parts, and that it could’ve been written to be a little shorter. I have to admit that I felt that the film lingered a little too much at certain points. The film is all about people, and how we cope, and how we cope with a stressful situation can label who we really are. I was pleased with the way it took its bleak premise with an uplifting sensibility. The film had a strong last act that made the film much more rewarding, and it became the ultimate definition of how we sometimes find ourselves, our real selves during our last few hours of life on Earth.
Star Rating: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is nowhere near as funny as it has been made to seem, which actually works in its favor. The film is at its best when it veers away from the broad, strained humor prominently featured in the ads, none of which make it clear that only about a third of the final product is being represented. What you’re not being shown is an intelligent and surprisingly moving story of two emotionally damaged people … more
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD Written and Directed by Lorene Scafaria Starring Steve Carrell, Keira Knightley and Martin Sheen Penny: What is it about the end of the world that brings them all out of the woodworks? SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD gives new meaning to the term, “Disaster Movie”. Within moments of the film’s opening, it is announced that the world is coming to its inevitable end. This piece of information would ordinarily … more
By Joan Alperin Schwartz First, the perks about knowing that planet Earth will no longer exist in 21 days... At the office, every day is now casual Friday...You can have mindless sex without worrying about disease or incestand...when asked, 'What are you doing the rest of your life', you can respond in one sentence or less. That's right folks, it's another 'end of days' movie...T … more