Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Directed by: Lorene Scafaria Cast: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Connie Britton, Martin Sheen Running Time: 1 hr 41 mins Rating: R Release Date: June 22, 2012
PLOT: An asteroid is heading toward Earth, and Dodge (Carell) is alone. He decides to take a road trip to track down his high school sweetheart. He takes his neighbor (Knightley) along for the ride and she complicates his plans.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you're a big fan of Carell, you'll want to see this performance. There is some good humor in the first half of the film.
What would you do if the world was going to end soon? That's a question you and your friends have probably discussed ... at 3am, after too many cocktails. "I'd travel," "I would want to see my mom one more time," "I'd go on a killing spree!" There are a variety of typical answers, except for that last guy. Wow, he's weird. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World asks the question we've all played around with, and it's a pretty good time.
This subject feels perfectly made for a long-form improv sketch. For a while, that's how they seem to play it. The best example of this is a party thrown by Dodge's friends early in the film. We have comedians Rob Corddry, and Patton Oswalt either giving up, or seizing the moment. We have Connie Britton considering an affair, and we have Carell being mopey.
Whether it's Dan in Real Life, Crazy Stupid Love, or the awful Evan Almighty we've seen Carell be mopey before. In fact, I say we declare him King of the Mopes! He's so good in this manner that it almost seems too easy for him. That's a compliment, but it also feels a little too familiar. Dodge feels compelled to lend Penny (Knightley) a helping hand. Just as you would expect, there is some rioting and Dodge has to get out of ... Dodge. He takes Penny with him.
The road trip adventure doesn't feel as fresh as the beginning of the film. Dodge and Penny don't have much in common, and some long-winded conversations help bond them together. Slowly, the film moves from getting quiet laughs, to attempting heart-felt drama. Dodge has father issues and a high school sweetheart. Penny has commitment issues and a family overseas. Those things never feel as interesting as seeing our society deal with the impending boom. The second half of the film feels a little like they are killing time. Luckily, Carell and Knightley are interesting enough to continue to hang out with. You can tell the film aspires to be a little something more at the end. It doesn't quite hit that level for me. Still, there are enough odd, funny, and interesting moments to make this End worthwhile.
Who knew the end of the world could be this nice?
FINAL SCORE: 7/10