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3.7 out of 5 stars
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World
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130 of 141 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Earlier this year there was "Melancholia", the ambitious and at times entertaining but also pretentious take on "the end of the world" as envisioned by director Lars von Trier, and now we get a completely different perspective on the very same topic, as written and directed by Lorene Scafaria.

"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (95 min.) starts off brilliantily. In the first minute of the movie we see Dodge (played by Steve Carell) and his wife sitting in the car, listening to the radio announcement that asteroid 'Matilda' cannot be stopped and will hit earth in 3 weeks, ending life as we know it. Dodge's wife looks at him, and then leaves the car, literally running away from him. What a beginning! Dodge eventually meets Penny (played by Kiera Knightley), and regardless of their age difference, they strike a friendship. Dodge and Penny hit the road, among others to look up Dodge's HS sweetheart and to find a plane for penny so she can rejoin her family in England. I don't want to give away much more of the plot, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out, but let's just say things don't pan out exactly as Dodge and Penny thought they would.

This is an outstanding movie from start to finish. In the midst of all the numbing summer blockbusters that Hollywood unleaches upon us, here's actually a movie that actually speaks to me. At times I laughed, at times I teared up, and the movie went by in the blink of an eye. I don't know that Steve Carell has ever been better than here, playing the "Joe Six-Pack" average guy with even more restraint (and that's a compliment). Kudos also to Kiera Kightley. Likewise for the oustanding soundtrack (I may never listen to the Hollies "The Air That I Breathe" in the same way again). But the ultimate credit must go to writer-director Lorene Scafaria, making her directing debut here. Can't wait to see what she will do next. Meanwhile, "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" is HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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59 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
The trend for today's movies is to reveal the entire plot from start to finish including all the best lines compressed into a 2 minute 30 second trailer. The trailer for this film is awesome - fast paced, great music track (we're on a road to nowhere), and really funny. Well all of that stuff happens in about the first 20 minutes of the film. Then this focus/Indian paintbrush film settles into an examination of two questions: What if you found out you had 21 days to live? Along with the rest of humankind?

The basic plot of this movie is: man with long history of woman problems gives up on romance after his wife leaves him and he finds out the world is coming to an end, people try unsuccessfully to set him up, he meets a much younger female neighbor who has a sleep disorder and awful judgment in men, they pick up a dog and go on a road trip each on a quest for that one last thing they want to do in this life. And they get to really know each other along the way.

It is at times serious and contemplative and other times shifts to gallows humor. The exterior world which starts out with crowds and rioting fades away as the film progresses to focus solely on one man and one woman. The relationship that builds over the course of the movie between the main characters, Dodge and Penny, along with the dog they pick up along the way dubbed Sorry, is sweet and believable.

If you like Steve Carell's brand of humor or films that cut past the BS and examine the stuff that matters, give this one a try.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I rented this movie thinking it was going to be a silly dark comedy. While it did have its light moments, a comedy this movie is not. I was moved to tears and I could not get it out of my head. I thought about it, applied it to my life. Cried again. I ended up watching this movie 3 more times before buying it.

If you want to have a lighthearted slapstick comedic experience, maybe you should pass on Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, this is not for you. The second half of the movie is emotional and touching. I have to say, I fell in love with Steve Carell, his performance was incredible.
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46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
As soon as I saw the title for this movie, I knew it was going to be a great film. It's really an exploration of Existentialism. Whether we die from a meteor crashing into the Earth or we live out our lives in peace and good health - we all must eventually die. So this film is really the sped-up version of the important responsible decisions and acts of genuine authenticity that we have to face in our lives.

There's two things you'll find interesting in this film. One is how others around the central characters deal with their imminent demise. There's nihilistic hedonism. There's people who simply cannot process what's happening and just carry on with their now meaningless lives (that is, acting in "bad faith"). There's the anti-humanist, devout believer who's content in their prison cell - satisfied that the world is finally coming to an end. There's people who commit shocking suicides, and those that hire someone else to put them out of their misery. It's not exactly a comedy. Like Dodge's friend's wife tells him, "You're not getting out of this one."

The second thing that you'll find interesting is how Dodge finds a type of "salvation" inside all this doom. And I won't spoil that for you, but I'll just say that it's going to require an active, authentic decision on his part about how he wants to spend his last moments.

Also, thank-you so much to the film's writer(s) for not chickening out and giving this movie a fake, "Hollywood", happy ending. I highly recommend this movie. It will wake you up to life and its amazing possibilities.

P.S. ultimately, Existentialism is a failed philosophy, but that doesn't make it a bad one. The last half of the 20th century was filled with European (Continental) philosophers explaining exactly *how* Existentialism is failed. But I will leave that as an exercise to the truly curious and thoughtful.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
This movie is optimistic about the power of love and forgiveness - even if the end of the world is at hand. This movie is more than a romantic comedy. Some moments are poignant drama, others will make you laugh, and some may even draw a tear. Its plot is simple enough, but leaves one to ponder what is most important in life. I loved the mini-adventure, that drew laughs from truly humorous moments and circumstances rather than going for cheap jokes or slapstick. I'm so glad that I watched it. I have only praise for the quality of this movie.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I was not originally planning on writing a review for this movie, but I really thought it was a good movie, well worth watching, so I wanted to do my part to get the star count up. The movie is kind of a mix between a black comedy and a tragic romance. The movie lacks a single tone. Some might say that this movie lacks unity, or that it does not know what it wants to be, but it struck just the right chord for me. I think the combination is perfect.

It seems like I rarely really laugh at comedies anymore, but this movie had some truly hilarious moments. It opens with a radio announcement that the last mission to save humanity from an asteroid hurtling toward the earth has failed, but that the radio station is going to continue bringing their listeners a countdown to the apocalypse, along with all their favorite classic rock hits. That opening sets the tone for the first part of the movie and all the absurd behavior of the human race in the face of their imminent demise. Highlights from the comedy side of the film include the relationship between Dodge (Steve Carrell) and his housekeeper, and the scene in the Friendly's (whoever the actor was who played the host did a brilliant job). I rarely see comedy that I think is this good, but this movie is more than just a comedy.

Now I must give my SPOILER ALERT. The rest of the movie is about the relationship that forms between Dodge (Steve Carrell) and Penny (Keira Knightly) as they attempt to track down Dodge's high school sweetheart and get Penny back to England to see her family. In some ways we have seen this part of the movie before. The two strangers who set out on a mission together, both looking for something, but who wind up finding each other instead. While this is somewhat of a formula, it is a formula I happen to like, and I think this movie did a good job with it. There is also a story about Dodge's father who apparently abandoned him when he was young and their reconciliation which adds an emotional layer to the film. Dodge and Penny wind up spending their last days together, and I am glad the movie did not back away at the last minute from the end of the world. The last scene, I thought, was particularly well done. The romance may not be entirely believable, but I am inclined to suspend my disbelief for this movie, since I think the rest of the movie works so well.

I think the movie might also be viewed as a meditation on what is really important in life. There are so many people hanging on to things (jobs, relationships, old wounds, etc.) that they are not really happy with. This movie, by forcing people to decide how they want to spend their last three weeks, also forces them to decide what is important to them. There is a scene on the beach, where a group of strangers have gathered and are just having a good time, that I think makes a point also made in Ecclesiastes "All is vanity. So eat, drink, and be merry" (I am paraphrasing). We all return to dust, so there is nothing to do but enjoy life. That seems to me, anyways, to be one of the messages of the movie.

I have to say, the only thing that really mystified me about the movie (I remind everyone my SPOILER ALERT is in effect) was the decision to have the asteroid hit a week earlier than expected. It seems ridiculous to think that the scientists would have been off by a week. I could understand if it served some purpose in the plot but, as far as I can tell, it does not. So why ask the viewer to believe something so implausible if there is no purpose? If anyone can shed some light on this particular aspect of the movie I would love to hear it. It is not really a big deal. It certainly did not ruin the movie for me. I just do not understand it.

In summary, I will say that I think this is one of the better movies I have seen in awhile. It has quite a few laughs, but has a serious side as well. It is a sad story, but avoids getting overly heavy. If this movie had just been a comedy I do not think I would have liked it as much, and if it had just been a sad love story I also do not think I would have liked it nearly as much, but the combination worked just right for me. Perhaps it will work just right for you as well...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 3, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD is an odd, quirky and touching film. It is NOT a raucous comedy (despite the presence of Steve Carrell and folks like Rod Cordry), but it is pretty funny throughout. It is NOT a romance in a traditional sense, yet it is an unusual love story.

The movie starts as the world learns that the last efforts to stop a huge asteroid from slamming into it have failed. Three weeks is all the planet has remaining. Immediately upon hearing the doomsday proclamation, Steve Carrell's wife leaves him. We learn their marriage hasn't been great for a long time...but the sudden abandonment leaves Carrell a bit stunned. We sense he has probably been unhappy for a long time, because he continues to go through the motions of his life even as chaos slowly descends around him. It's as though the world has finally caught up to HIS condition...fatalistic and seeing no real reason to care about anything.

Then he meets his next door neighbor (Keira Knightley) a British girl who has just broken up with her boyfriend, and with the end of the world coming, wishes she could get back to Britain to see her parents one last time (which is tough, because airlines are grounded). The two head out into the world, with Carrell offering to get Knightley to someone he knows that owns a plane...and her offering to help him find his "first love"...the girl that got away.

Along the way they have many amusing encounters...most notably at a Chili's-like restaurant that has decided to "get creative" with its menu. They encounter zaniness, they encounter suicide, and they encounter families that are simply together to enjoy their last few days of beauty and togetherness. And not surprisingly, a bond grows between these two unlikely companions.

This is a thoughtful and sad movie. Yes, there were plenty of funny moments, but writer/director Lorene Scafaria is interested in much more. Trying to make a movie about the end of the world is daunting. HOW would people act? What kinds of crazy things would happen? Scafaria has actually come up with a wide variety of possibilities and she gives us little peeks at each of those, mostly through Carrell's bemused and sad eyes. (The best is his maid, who keeps coming to work and gets upset when Carrell tells her she doesn't need to clean his apartment anymore.) But in the end, her wry, funny and sometimes affecting musings on how human along America's east coast might react in the face of the apocalypse are only background to the plight of her two leads. Their problems, in the great scheme of things, are pretty small...but we learn to care for each of them deeply.

There is the potential for quite a "creepiness" factor in partnering Carrell and Knightley. But Carrell gives one of his best "serious" performances here, and although Knightley is occasionally a bit antic and scattered, she generally matches him. Their relationship, as it progresses, feels logical and right...and we root for them, even as we might worry that Carrell is becoming a bit too much like a Woody Allen character (as in, interested in women far too young). They make it work as best as a relationship like this could work.

And in the end, I found the movie to be surprisingly effective and touching. Clearly, this movie will not be for everyone (as its poor box office performance attests), because it is very unconventional in many ways. But I liked it very much because it WAS surprising. Scafaria was bursting with ideas for this film, yet it never feels cluttered. She is able to make most of her observations or assumptions quickly and adroitly. The film is also full of cameos from some great actors (Patton Oswalt, Connie Britton, Derek Luke, William Petersen and especially Melanie Lynskey, who is terrific in her little role)...each of these experienced performers (and more) are skillful enough to take their brief moments and make something of them...to add to the experience rather than just creating "oh, look, he's in the movie" moments. SEEKING A FRIEND... is a low-key delight, original, well-acted, well-written, funny and affecting. Highly recommended!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
Well, at least it's a mostly decent one.

Seeking starts off really well, and the first half hour or so is truly funny, due almost entirely to Steve Carell. Yes, he plays the exact same likable schlub he plays in pretty much every movie or tv show he's in, but he's the master of it, so who can blame him. He sells it perfectly here, and his coworkers play off it well.

The highlight of the film, and the last truly funny part, is the party, which has some classic lines courtesy of writer/director Scafaria. The bucket list and Radiohead lines are especially classic, and the dvd extras show Oswald riffing on some good bits, worth watching to be sure. (As are the brief making of and other outtakes; you can see that the fun feel of the film mirrored the making of it.)

But then it all goes downhill pretty fast, mainly because Knightly is in way over her head comedically. So it turns into a pretty straight up chick flick, which is fine if you dig that, but I like more laughs mixed into that salad. There's a few, but precious few compared to the start here.

But, there's a lot of heart, and even the truly silly ending shows that Scafaria is at heart a real romantic, and this is her baby, so well done to her for getting it made and having it be as good as it is at times. It's really a three star film as a whole, but she gets the fourth star for sheer good heartedness, which you can feel in the careful and thoughtful way the film feels as it winds into its sappy finale.

All in all, a decent date movie, and for the truly great laughs in the opening and the rather sardonic take on modren American office and suburban life, worth watching for those who like their romance mixed with some occasionally edgy laughs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I watched this thinking it would be another rom com (my favorite kind), but I was wrong. Even though Steve Carrell made his fame with his comedic talents, he gave a powerful performance in this beautiful movie. In a race to tie up loose ends before the end of the world, Dodge and Penny find the kind of love thats eternal in what may be the last great (and annonomous) love story on earth. The unspoken tenderness between Dodge and Penny is so powerful that it drew me into their world. I felt a tremendous sadness for them and at the same time the elation and peace that they found each other in such a desperate hour. The peace that Dodge and Penny had at the end was beautiful. The beach scene will go down as one of my favorite movie scenes ever. It was the closest Hollywood has ever got to our true place in the world. The love poured out into my livingroom and into my heart. I hope you find this a treasure... as I surely did.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
There's a unique and more courageous movie lurking on the fringes of screenwriter and first-time director Lorene Scafaria's whimsical, melancholic take on Armageddon, but this relatively low-key 2012 drama has a change of heart at the two-thirds mark that makes the inevitable ending feel almost conventional relative to its idiosyncratic start. Instead of dealing with mankind's fate in a special-effects-laden extravaganza, Scafaria blessedly reduces the scale to ponder how a small circle of people respond to the prospect of impending oblivion. In this respect, her humanistic approach is similar to Lars von Trier's recent Melancholia where the focus was on two sisters with opposing sensibilities. This film focuses on a more unlikely pair - Dodge Petersen, a menopausal, emotionally wounded insurance salesman and Penny Lockhart, a free spirit hypersomniac with a passion for classic vinyl records. The plot starts simply enough when a radio announcer nonchalantly announces that the last-ditch attempt to avert a seventy-mile-wide asteroid named Mathilda has failed.

Dodge's wife runs away immediately upon hearing the news, while their friends decide to end their days with uninhibited debauchery, excessive amounts of alcohol, and heroin injections. At first, the nearly catatonic Dodge doesn't alter his daily routine as he goes to his office and finds people disappearing and committing suicide in the face of the disaster. He eventually decides to seek out his long-ago love Olivia, and his bohemian neighbor Penny wants to help him in exchange for the possibility that he can find her a way to get back home to her family in England. The movie then turns into a road trip where, of course, they meet up with a series of eccentrics, all the while forming an alliance that turns unsurprisingly into love. The early scenes like their encounter with the hedonistic, lascivious staff at a TGIF-like restaurant are quirky, unexpected, and funny in an absurdist way. However, when Dodge starts to recognize his do-or-die attraction to Penny, the transition is barely apparent, and the rush of romanticism never feels quite authentic, especially in light of the ensuing episodes which become increasingly predictable.

It's quite possible that Scafaria intended the shift in tone to be subtle to the point of non-existent, but it leaves a bit of an emotional vacuum which the actors have to fill in with their performances. By now, Steve Carell is no stranger to the sad loner character he portrays here, having done similar duty in Little Miss Sunshine,Dan in Real Life, and last year's Crazy, Stupid, Love, and there is definitely a feeling of retread in his work here. Yet, his innate likeability and common-man sensibilities eventually won me over. In a change-of-pace from her more histrionic roles, Keira Knightley captures Penny's sprightly mannerisms nicely, although I have to admit her off-kilter performance sometimes feels like an impersonation of Kate Winslet's Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. While a nice rapport develops between Carell and Knightley, the romantic sparks never really ignite in any compelling way to make us feel more resonantly about their characters' fates. Still, there is a lingering sweetness to the whole enterprise that's hard to resist, and I found myself hoping there was some other way to end a movie that telegraphs its intentions from the outset.

There are lots of recognizable faces in small roles and cameos sprinkled throughout - Rob Corddry as Dodge's nihilistic neighbor, a nicely comic Connie Britton as his horned-up wife, Melanie Lynskey as the wanton woman who they throw to Dodge to provide instant gratification in the remaining days, Patton Oswalt as another neighbor taking full advantage of the open floodgates for available sex, Adam Brody as Penny's over-sensitive current boyfriend, Derek Luke as her humorless survivalist ex-boyfriend, William Petersen as a somewhat suspect trucker, T.J. Miller as the stoner-friendly restaurant host, and Martin Sheen as Dodge's estranged father. The music on the eclectic soundtrack is well chosen from Frank Black's "In My Time of Ruin" to the Hollies' "The Air That I Breathe" to Herb Alpert's "This Guy's in Love with You". It's worth seeing just to see a different take on a hopelessly curious premise, but the execution is not as uniquely individualistic or emotionally resonant as I was hoping it would be.
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