CliqueClack Flicks

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – Audacious and almost amazing

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - Theater Review
Release Date: 06/22/2012 - MPAA Rating: R
Clacker Rating: 4 Clacks

'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World' is a lighthearted romantic comedy about the end of humanity.

When disaster strikes, people react in different ways. Some drown their sorrows in mind-altering drugs and alcohol, some find comfort in repetitive minutiae, some embrace indulgences such as violence or sex — and others may just shut down. In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, from first time director (and writer) Lorene Scafaria, we start the movie discovering that a humanity-ending meteor is headed for Earth and will strike in just three weeks time.

Dodge (Steve Carell) hears this news on the radio in his car with his wife (Steve Carell’s real life wife Nancy Carell), and then she just jumps out and runs away. Probably never to be seen again. Time passes, as Dodge keeps going to work, in state of depressed fugue or perhaps something temporary — after all, his wife has left him and the world is ending. Some of his friends embrace bacchanalian instincts in various forms (cameos by Patton Oswalt, Connie Britton, and Rob Corddry), but Dodge isn’t really interested in anything like that. But then he sees his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) crying outside — she’s missed the last plane to England and will never see her family again.

After some comforting character interaction, Penny reveals that she had been keeping mail that was mistakenly put in her mailbox that was meant for Dodge. Including a few fairly recent letter from Dodge’s old high school girlfriend (The One That Got Away). So now Penny decides she wants to help Dodge find Olivia before the end — maybe they can spend time together as “true loves” or something. And Dodge reveals he knows someone that may still have a plane, so Penny has two reasons to travel with him. After jettisoning her former boyfriend (Adam Brody), it becomes one of those “seeking something seemingly explicit but really seeking the concept of inner peace.”

Naturally, the friendship grows between these two very different people, in a way that never would’ve happened unless they were all about to die. In a lot of ways, this movie is one part dark, dark comedy and another part romance. I’ve heard some people describe Penny as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (meaning primarily existing as an unrealistic support character for the male protagonist), but I don’t agree — to me, Penny has her own ways of pursuing her future and her own back-story. Normally this sort of romantic relationship could be odd, considering the 22 year age difference, but I think the movie builds it up naturally. There are a few flaws and issues I had with the movie, but they aren’t huge. One is that there really isn’t an exploration of religious reaction to Armageddon, although we really only do see things from two people’s point of view.

There are also a few slightly over-the-top maudlin segments, but in general the movie is funny and sweet, telling an interesting sort of story about two random people facing the loss of everything they’ve ever known. And the ending (no spoilers) really worked for me.

Photo Credit: Focus Features

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