I’m still processing this one. As far as apocalyptic movies go, I certainly liked it (way) better than last year’s Melancholia. But you really need to be in a reflective or introspective mood to enjoy this “comedy” about the end of the world. The movie explores how people might react – and interact- as an asteroid bears down on Earth, bringing with it the likelihood of instant extinction. That said, it should come as no surprise – despite the marketing – that Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is not a raucous, laugh-out-loud comedy. It’s more of a dramedy – sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes poignant, and sometimes just plain odd.
Here’s the gist: A soft-spoken insurance salesman named Dodge (Steve Carell) finds himself adrift in a sea of loneliness as the end of the world looms. He seems inclined to ride out his final days inside his apartment – until he meets a neighbor named Penny (Keira Knightley), an extrovert with a half-glass-full approach to life. Together, they embark on a final roadtrip to reunite with family and former flames. But their journey is full of unexpected twists and turns – and an under-developed cameo by Martin Sheen as Dodge’s deadbeat dad.
The best – and worst- part of Seeking a Friend is just how real it can feel, right down to the countdown clock on television, Y2K-esque parties, and morbid opportunism. Cynicism and sarcasm abound, but ultimately the movie does serve as a schmaltzy reminder that on the roadtrip of life, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey, and making the most of it – however long (or short) it might be.
I don’t think this movie will gain much traction among mainstream audiences, mostly because the premise is pretty depressing – especially for a comedy. But it’ll make for a fine rental (along with a drink or two) the next time an asteroid comes within a million miles or so…