Director: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Melanie Lynskey, Adam Brody
Written by: Lorene Scafaria
Running Time: 101 mins
Release date: 13th July 2012
As ideas go, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World may not be the most original: it’s the end of the world…what do we do? But writer/director Lorene Scafaria has come up with a neat plan to make it seem a little more original. See it through the eyes of someone who basically doesn’t care. Then cast Steve Carell in that part and what you get is a pretty decent piece of entertainment.
An asteroid is heading to earth bringing with it total destruction. Insurance agent Dodge has just had his wife run off and is now contemplating what to do with the precious little time he has. Memories of his first real love come rushing back when his neighbour, Penny, comes knocking at his window crying about never seeing her parents in England again. The pair make a pact. He will supply a plane for her to fly home if she helps him find his one true love. Escaping New York’s rioting and looting, the couple embark on a cross country trip to fulfill their last wishes, not realising what consequences may occur.
This is a very light-weight, black comedy dealing with a subject matter that many film makers have looked at, more recently Lars Von Triers’ bleak Melancholia. This is far from bleak. Scafaria makes some very funny impressions on what it will be like; swingers parties where no one cares about disease or who they sleep with, a restaurant where everyone is a little more than friendly, a team of ex soldiers preparing themselves in an underground bunker, someone making sure their lawn is neat. These slight looks at the world as it heads to its doom are part of the fun of this film.
Steve Carell has made a career out of playing that hunched shouldered ordinary man who quietly gets on with his life and doesn’t want to be interfered with. Underplaying every gag, this is the perfect vehicle for him and he does indeed deliver. He has such a likeable screen persona, no matter how dark things get, he just shrugs his shoulders and gets on with it.
Keira Knightley does a good job with a character that is suppose to be kooky and have a character flaw that is there more for a plot development. She could have quite easily just read the lines and got on with it but no, she tries to give Penny more depth than that. Sure, the pair don’t quite work and the chemistry isn’t always there but they do the best with what they have and Knightley is beginning to become a half decent actress.
The film trundles along nicely and yes it has one or two good laughs, a couple of poignant moments that leads to the obvious ending. It’s a shame that Scafaria doesn’t end the film a few scenes before she does at it would have been a very satisfactory way to finish. Alas, the ending we do get is a little too obvious which is a pity as it does look like its been tacked on.
A story very similar to Scafaria’s previous film Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, it’s not perfect by a long shot, and yet I kind of liked it. I didn’t mind spending nearly two hours with these characters and if it was made as disposable entertainment, then it’s done it’s job well.