Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

What would you do if you only had 21 days to live before the Earth is destroyed? Would you party hard and do a lot of illegal things? Would you hop on the next plane to somewhere you have always wanted to visit, or perhaps just hunker on down at home and finally watch Citizen Kane? Hopefully what you wouldn’t do is mope about sadly musing on your dull, pathetic life with Keira Knightley. Watching Seeking a Friend for the End of the World almost made me wish the Armageddon would come sooner, just so I wouldn’t have to look at Knightly and Carell kiss anymore. Eurgh.

The film opens with the news that the latest attempts to destroy a meteorite hell bent for Earth have failed and the world is doomed to be destroyed in 21 day’s time. Upon hearing this, Dodge (Carell)’s wife, Linda (played by Steve Carell’s actual wife) makes a break for it and runs away from her tedious husband. Dodge continues on with his daily life whilst the world around him begins to rapidly fall apart and manages to acquire a little dog. One day Dodge bumps into irritatingly alternative, Penny (Knightley) who reveals that she has been holding onto his mail for the last few months (isn’t that a federal offence?) and discovers that his first sweetheart wrote him a letter a while ago saying that she still loves him. Things soon get a bit ‘London Rioty’ in the city and so Penny and Dodge embark on a road trip together to find Dodge’s long lost love and get Penny on a plane back to England to see her family one last time before everyone in the world dies.

I know it is odd to say this giving the film’s subject matter, but I was really expecting a few more laughs to be present. What you end up with instead is a lukewarm version of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. The film begins with all of the right intentions but fails miserably with its two terrible lead characters who are so lifeless one would be forgiven for thinking they had already been hit by a meteor. At a dinner party one evening, Dodge refuses to join in with the ‘it’s the end of the world’ drinking, choosing instead to sit alone in a bathroom. Are you starting to see why this film was so hard to warm to? His behaviour is so far from what any normal human being would do that it makes it virtually impossible to identify with him. Whilst one could argue that he is merely sticking to his morals, others would say WHO CARES? Get your freak on Dodge and try having some fun, something that he clearly has not had much of in his life.

The greatest thing about this film, and I NEVER thought I would ever say this, is Adam Brody, who at one point uses Keira Knightley…as a human shield! Way to go, Brody! Sadly his attempt does not work and he is left out of the action pretty quickly by the ruthless and self-obsessed Penny. For all of her weed-smoking, record-listening ‘lovable’ quirks ultimately I was just staggered how director Scafaria thought she had written a likeable character when all she does is moan about how bad she has it in life. We are then expected to believe that over the space of a week that she and Dodge fall madly in love. Essentially the film is just a series of conversations over various tables in the Eastern Seaboard which does not make for the liveliest viewing experience.

Most annoyingly of all is that this film actually moved me. It wasn’t anything to do with the characters and their journey, but instead some of the small details of human life battling on with normal activities despite knowing that death is coming. Fathers continue to mow their lawns, mothers continue to have their yard sales, and each moment of getting to know each other is precious. Despite this, the film lacks the oomph and charisma needed to make it endearing and if the world is ever going to go out with a very large bang, rest easy in the knowledge that it will take Keira Knightley down too.

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