Film Review : Seeking a Friend For the End of the World
● By Justin Buettner
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opens with Dodge and his wife listening to a radio announcement that an asteroid will end life on Earth in three weeks. She jumps from the car and runs away not to be seen again. Dodge attempts to continue his life as it was including showing up to his job as an insurance salesman. It isn’t until he meets his neighbor Penny, a younger girl that lives downstairs, that Dodge’s life takes a turn. She reveals that his wife had been cheating and also a letter from his high school sweetheart had been sent to him. Dodge decides to go on a road trip to try and find Dodge’s one true love before the end of the world and Penny is along for the ride looking for a way to see her family one last time. What they did not expect was to fall in love with each other during the journey.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World has a terrific premise, has fleeting moments of brilliance, but has long stretches where the movie feels lost and unsure what to do with itself. The entire movie is built upon the relationship of Penny and Dodge, but the relationship never feels like a fit. Odd contrivances seem to force these characters together and the movie doesn’t give them enough to build to a believable romantic connection. Part of this is due to the road trip portion of the movie where the movie definitely becomes aimless as random characters and situations are thrown in but don’t have any real impact on the leads. However the quiet moments that allow Steve Carell and Keira Knightley to perform is when the film shines.
Steve Carell once again plays the part of a beaten down everyday guy who is life’s punching bag. He is convincing in this type of role and knows how to add just the right glances and looks to make this character sympathetic. Keira Knightley is also a very capable actor whose smaller independent roles are a much better example of her abilities than the popular Pirates of the Caribbean films. She is very good in the role of Penny. The trouble is Carell and Knightley don’t quite fit well as a couple in love on screen. Just to prove how talented these two actors are, they still make the film work despite the lack of romantic chemistry.
Lorene Scafaria, who wrote and directed this film, had a very clever concept. I like the smaller story being told instead of the epic action styled movie about the end of the world. A large part of the humor in the movie is how it illustrates the “normal” person’s reaction to their fate. Instead of following characters that perform super human feats to save the world we see people rushing to be with family or trying to tie up loose ends in their lives. The human element is fascinating to explore and you can’t help to ask yourself how would you spend your last three weeks on Earth? How would you handle the gamut of emotions that you would go through your mind in that time too? These are compelling questions, especially considering it was just two weeks ago another large asteroid did pass very close to our planet in real life. However Seeking a Friend for the End of the World never strikes the right balance of story, character, and plot.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World will struggle to find an audience as it delivers an ending that most people will find sad or upsetting. This is not the type of movie you leave on a happy note, so if you are a fan of happily ever after you may want to skip this movie. I for one found the last scene deeply moving and I loved the simplicity of it, but then again I am the guy that likes an occasional sad ending because it’s honest. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is an independent film with marketable actors in the lead roles. This is not your typical Steve Carell romantic comedy as the trailers may suggest. If you like small films that make you think this movie may be for you, but if you’re looking for a light hearted date movie to give you a few laughs you’re looking at the wrong movie.
Films like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World : Melancholia, Deep Impact, and Miracle Mile
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.