“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” tries to what few other apocalyptic movies do: make you laugh.
And it succeeds, at least for a little bit. It’s a surprisingly original premise, and it’s pulled off extremely well—until the sappy love-fest that follows.
Starring Steve Carrell (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) and Keira Knightley (“A Dangerous Method”) in what might be the oddest pairing of actors ever, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” depicts the world at the brink of the apocalypse, with an asteroid heading to Earth in less than a month with all hopes of stopping it lost.
The film breezes over the technicalities of the situation, instead focusing on the lives of the ordinary people, many of whom have accepted their imminent demise in a darkly comic way. The characters are hilariously nonchalant about the end of the world, bluntly doling out harsh truths to each other and, of course, partying like there’s no tomorrow.
This results in some hilariously inappropriate situations which liven up the film quite a bit, though it’s not enough to carry the movie. This is unfortunate, because the road trip half of this film severely lacks the devil-may-care attitude of the first half. While the trip encompasses your usual cast of bizarre characters, it’s weighed down by the forced, and randomly introduced, romance between Dodge, Carrell’s character, and Penny, Knightley’s character.
Now, May-December relationships, when written well, can be some of the best romances to bless our screens. However, the odd combination of Carrell and Knightley translate to the big screen, and it’s often hard to swallow any chemistry between them, no matter how many “emotional” close-ups they get, or how gushy their lines are. “Seeking a Friend” does a great job of guiding your emotions, but not a very good job at keeping you convinced.
Knightley plays against type as the manic pixie dream girl, complete with a boyish haircut, a wacky wardrobe and an extensive vinyl records collection. Her performance is actually quite enjoyable, as she plays up her character’s scatterbrained nature and stunted emotional age to great comedic effect. Carrell plays his usual, miserable character type, wallowing in self-pity for much of the movie, which makes it all the more difficult to completely buy his relationship with Penny, whose optimistic nature is probably better suited to one who cares.
“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” boasts a unique enough premise to garner your curiosity, but doesn’t sustain a strong enough storyline to warrant your money. But at least there’s a cute dog.