Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Derek Luke and Martin Sheen
Written and Directed by Lorene Scafaria
For the second week in a row, this time coming from Entertainment One (eone), we get another piece of summer blockbuster counter programming that is a quirky oddball romantic comedy with a sci-fi twist. After last week’s time travel comedy Safety Not Guaranteed we get a film about the end of the world as it literally states in the title, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Safety was a film that worked because it didn’t get buried under its own quirkiness, can Seeking do the same?
As the film opens we discover that the world will end in 21 days due to the last attempt at derailing an inbound meteor failing. We see Dodge (Carell) and his wife sitting in a parked car listening to the news on the radio trying to come to grips with the consequences of this announcement, when Dodge’s wife bursts out of the car and runs away, never to be seen again. Dodge tries to carry on with his normal daily routine, he goes to work and is offered a raise as most of the higher ups have left, trying to maintain a hold on his sanity. His friends Diane and Warrens’(Britton and Corddry) host a simple “last dinner”, which devolves into a free-for-all with drugs, underage drinking, and inappropriate sexual advances. Dodge heads home where his solitude is interrupted by the sobbing of Penny (Knightley) on his balcony. After inviting Penny in, the pair pass out in front of the television. Dodge walks Penny back to her place where she gives him the mail that she had mistakenly received over the last 3 years! Amongst the mail is a handwritten letter from Dodge’s long lost first love where she professes he’s always been her true love. The letter, combined with a riot, make Dodge and Penny road trip partners, at the expense of her ex-boyfriend Owen (a very funny Brody). Penny agrees to take Dodge to meet up with the lost love from the letter while Dodge agrees to get Penny back home to England as all flights have been cancelled but he knows a pilot who can do it. Much happens along the way as the road trip twists and turns and we meet other characters including another of Penny’s exes (Luke) and a slew of stand-up comedians in supporting roles.
The story behind Seeking a Friend for the End of the World may not be that original (romantic comedy road trip), but the script is smart and funny. Carell and Knightley both perform admirably here. Carell’s comedic timing and Knightley’s quirky adorableness are on full display, but the chemistry between the two is a little forced. You know where the story is heading for the most part between the two, but you never truly feel the two of them fully earn the payoff for their shared story. The surrounding cast really works well though, including very funny turns from comedians Britton, Corddry, Patton Oswalt, TJ Miller and others. Also, Martin Sheen lends some pathos to a role I will not spoil here. Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria’s script is smart enough to keep us interested and entertained throughout.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World may not fully succeed with the relationship of it two leads, but thankfully it has a lot more going for it. Seeking is a recommend.
Till Next Time,
Movie Junkie TO
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