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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
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Steve Carell and Keira Knightley lead an all-star cast in this clever and heartwarming comedy that explores the crazy things people do when humanity’s last days are at hand. Set in a too-near future, two neighbors, Dodge (Carell) and Penny (Knightley), react in their own unique ways to the announcement that a 70-mile-wide asteroid is en route to the Earth. He wants to return to his first love. She just wants to get back to her family. As the unlikely companions’ respective journeys converge, their outlooks – if not the world’s – brighten in surprising and hilarious ways. The feature directorial debut of screenwriter Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is being hailed as “funny and wonderfully poetic! Steve Carell and Keira Knightley are superb.” (Claudia Puig, USA Today)
A sweet and subtle love story, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World begins when Dodge (Steve Carell) watches his wife run away from him because she's just learned that an asteroid is going to destroy the Earth. Dodge finds himself unmoored in a world that's lost its bearings in a much bigger way; some people surrender to hedonism, some cling to the mundane patterns of their lives, and others just kill themselves. Then Dodge is given one last chance at meaning in his life: a neighbor named Penny (Keira Knightley) reveals that she's failed to give him some of his misdirected mail… including a letter from his cherished high school sweetheart, who reveals he was the love of her life. As civilization falls apart around them, Dodge and Penny set off on a road trip to reunite Penny with her family and Dodge with his lost love. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World could have been broad and goofy, but instead the movie takes the scenario seriously (without, mind you, losing its sense of humor). Dodge and Penny discover that their lives, disconnected from a possible future, aren't what they were, and the result is both comic and surprisingly heartfelt. An impressive supporting cast--including Patton Oswalt, Connie Britton, Derek Luke, William Petersen, Rob Corddry, Gillian Jacobs, T.J. Miller, Adam Brody, Melanie Lynskey, and more--fleshes out this world of lost souls. --Bret Fetzer
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Top Customer Reviews
"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!
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!
I get the impression that the original draft of this script was probably one of the more depressing things written in quite some time, and that an effort was made to lighten things up a bit so that the film wasn't overwhelmingly depressing. Most of that comedic relief stops by about halfway through the film, at which point we're left with two very likeable characters trying to find some sort of solace as they approach the literal end of the world. Some aspects of the romance that develops between them is predictable, but it never feels false or forced. In fact I liked both of them so much that I was happy to see them happy, if even for just a moment. Without ruining anything, I can only say that film was ultimately completely heartbreaking.
There's no shortage of films about the end of the world. This one differs in the sense that it doesn't attempt any action-packed heroics at the last minute to save anyone, it doesn't try to offer any deeply philosophical answers about anything, it just shows two people trying to find solace in an impossible situation -- which is really all that life is about anyway -- annihilating meteor or not.
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