Comedy Movies, by Mike Richardson, 23 August 2012

Director: Lorene Scafaria

Stars: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley and Melanie Lynskey

Country: USA

Runtime: 101 min

Release Date:

Language: English

Odd couple Keira Knightley and Steve Carell bond over the impending apocalypse in writer/director Lorene Scafaria’s follow up to Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist; Seeking A Friend For the End of The World. A huge asteroid on a collision course with earth guaranteeing the destruction of mankind (remember Deep Impact or Lars von Trier’s Melancholia) is the jumping off point for an unexpected romance blossoming between two strangers while on a last chance road trip, and offers a welcome alternative to both the daring-do of the usual apocalyptic blockbuster and the intense navel gazing of the art house circuit, when they deal with similar issues.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

However by going for funny and touching, “This ain’t the Ark. It’s the Titanic!” over deep and meaningful, or even crash and bang Seeking A friend for The End of The World falls sort between both stools. Speaking of stools it’s still a darn sight more fun the usual “like porn but with catastrophes” fare from Roland Emmerich (2012, The Day After Tomorrow etc.)

Seeking a Friend For the End of the World sees lonely (recently dumped) insurance salesman Dodge (Carell) and a fragile / annoying (in a scohn / sKone sort of way) English kook; Penny (Knightley) head off together to try and say final goodbyes but discover an unlikely (aka wholly implausible) affection for each other. It could have been the perfect platform for a bittersweet romantic comedy, but either by miscasting or mistiming the overall joke Seeking A Friend for the End of the World fails to live up to its trailer. This is a shame as if you could have got past the slightly unlikely romantic pairing of Carell and Knightley then you could have found an unusual and darkly funny film, but the mismatched leads was just the start of Seeking A Friend For the End of the World’s problems.

Seeking A Friend For The End of The World starts with a clear “abandon hope right now” message, with the radio broadcasters admitting we are all goners. With the apocalypse announced Dodge’s wife (a cameo by Carell’s real-life wife Nancy) promptly walks (runs) out on him to spend her final weeks with a secret lover (not that I’d blame her) and the rest of society goes to PG-13 hell in an handcart. This should have been a high-laugh count, “what would you do if the world was coming to an end” comedy but instead aims for something more “significant.” Ooops!

This is a shame as Carell can do comedy (although there is little evidence he can do anything else (yet)) and Knightly hints at having a goofy soft centre beneath her skinny English rose veil. The film works best when those involved set their receivers to fun and have a laugh throwing around the, no law, no guilt, no time, nothing to lose “what ifs” that range from lower class looting to middle class swinging. With just three weeks before the end of the world I wished that Dodge didn’t snub his friends’ suggestions that he embrace boozy swingers’ parties (“Oh look everyone, Sarah and Dave brought heroin!”) and went off on a drinking, smoking, druggie, foodie, sexy bucket-list bender, instead of becoming a (final) friend to Penny. What should have been a 21 days of “I always wanted to do that,” comedy that allows an affection to slowly develop between this most mismatched of couples (remember how Harold and Maude tackled oblivion better) becomes a semi-serious, semi-comic (neither warm nor cold) quest: for Dodge to find his long-lost first love and Penny to get to her parents in Britain. I’d rather spend time with more imaginative friends if the world was ending.

Seeking A Friend for the End of the World may be beautifully shot, original, elegantly structured and never less than competently acted, but it just never clicks (as the leads constantly fail to do). Nowhere near as much fun as Armageddon, but considerably lighter than Abel Ferrara’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is not how anyone (outside the diehard Knightly or Carrel camps) should spend 101 minutes, regardless of how long they have left on the planet.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Trailer

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Movie Reviews

Hysteria

Hysteria

A film about the invention of the vibrator should leave you with a satisfied smile.
Tower Block

Tower Block

Tower Block rounds out a tidy triple of high rise thrillers after The Raid and Dredd. Except this one is very, very British.
Savages

Savages

Oliver Stine is back with Savages, WELL back but it’s more Natural Born Killers than Wall Street.
Now Is Good

Now Is Good

There’s another disease of the week tearjerker, but it (like its heroine) refuses to go gently or quietly into the light.
Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly

The best gangster film in ages.

Most Popular Movies