The apocalypse is just three weeks away, your wife has left you and you regret most of the major decisions you’ve ever made. What do you do? Some people try to fuck everyone they can, others drink to forget. A few carry on as normal and some riot. Dodge Peterson (Steve Carell) decides he’s going to seek out his old High School sweetheart after discovering a letter from her telling him that he was the love of her life. With him he takes his kooky English neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley) who he just met with the promise that he can get her a on a plane to be with her family before the end.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a sweet indie type of movie with its heart in the right place. It features two watchable leads and a nice story but is short of laughs and far too formulaic. It was a movie that I’d hoped to see in the cinema but my girlfriend’s dislike of Carell and Knightley coupled with a short theatrical run put a stop to that. It is a film which hasn’t enriched my life and won’t stay with me long but was worth the hundred minutes of my life.
Steve Carell plays close to his Little Miss Sunshine character here and seems constantly on the verge of breaking down or jumping off something but manages to hold it together. He also comes across as very tender and kind much like Frank from the aforementioned movie. I’ve always found Carell watchable whether being over the top as in Anchorman or more melancholic as he is here. He feels like the right actor for the part. Keira Knightley is an actress with whom I struggle to like. I’ve loved her in the likes of A Dangerous Method and Anna Kerenina but often find her annoying. She is closer to annoying than I’d like here but plays her role well. She is the typical kooky, quirky indie film girl who wears converse and carries around records. Her character is often irritating but I enjoyed the actress.
I liked the concept of the movie. There are numerous Hollywood blockbusters which deal with the end of the world but they rarely touch upon normal people. You might get a side plot about an ageing mother who doesn’t get to go on the ark but usually the action focuses on politicians, military personnel and heroes. I liked the idea of zooming right into suburbia. The side characters and extras react and act as you’d expect, with a mixture of panic, regret and carefree ‘who gives a shit now’ attitude. It made me wonder what I’d do in similar circumstances. All I’ll say is Scarlett Johansson would be in for a treat. And by treat I mean my penis. Considering the budget ($10 million) I thought the film created a decent amount of panic and destruction but it was obvious that the action was kept very close and very grounded. There are no wide angle shots of clogged freeways or heli shots of cities on their last legs. This is a movie seen from six feet off the ground.
A problem I have is that the film is very formulaic and predictable. From twenty minutes in I guessed almost everything the film presented from family popping up to who had a plane to the conclusion. There were no surprises or deviations from the expected path. This was a shame as you’d expect it given the chaos which surrounds the central characters. I found the romance believable, despite the age difference and both actors play it well. There is good chemistry between the two leads but it translates to very few laughs for the audience. Even with a proficient comedian like Carell on screen I only laughed out loud once which came after one of his sarcastic mutterings. I found little of the script amusing but felt engaged with it. In the end I just wanted something more. The film felt quite empty and like it was missing something while the ending was predictable but sweet.
- Steve Carell's real wife Nancy has a cameo as his character's wife.
- The Director has a cameo as Olivia, Dodge's lost love.
- The plane which is used to take Penny to England has a range of around 400 miles, less than a third of the distance between New Jersey and Western Europe.