Under the Radar?: “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a romantic dramedy starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightly as two neighbors who meet for the first time as the earth faces an impending cataclysm in the form of a massive asteroid on a collision course. With the planet having mere weeks left before it’s obliterated, the two haltingly help each other find their loved ones during the final days.

One-third comedy, one-third romance, and one-third drama, “Seeking a Friend” is an enjoyable indie that’s bound to make audiences think about what’s important in their lives.

When news that humanity’s last hope (an Armageddon-esque shuttle mission to destroy the incoming asteroid) has failed, the Doomsday clock begins. All life on planet Earth has three weeks to live. Immediately upon hearing the news, Dodge’s (Steve Carell) wife gets out of the car and runs away from him. He’s left to face the end of days alone. Routine keeps hold of him for the first handful of days… even though the world around him is beginning to fall apart. People are, understandably, not going to work, having hedonistic parties, and outright rioting.

It’s during this period of turmoil that Dodge meets Penny (Keira Knightly), a neighbor within his building that he’s never met before. The brutal honesty of the impending apocalypse has caused a rift between Penny and her current boyfriend, and she winds up talking to Dodge for comfort. This leads her to admit that she’s had a pile of misdelivered mail for him that she’s been too lazy to return. Within it, Dodge finds a letter from his high school sweetheart, telling him she’s always loved him. When a riot forces he and Penny to hit the road, the two embark on a mission to see the people they love one last time. Dodge wants to find his long-lost love, and Penny wants to find her family.

A bit of a road movie ensues, with plenty of “People living like there’s no tomorrow” comedy throw in to the mix. People do drugs, tell their spouses what they really think or abandon them altogether, have sex with random people, etc. A delusional handful of people absurdly cling to their normal routines.

The movie definitely isn’t entirely a comedy however. In addition to the romantic interests that Dodge and Penny have in others and potentially each other, the movie has a notable dramatic element to it. Given the subject, there are obviously maudlin moments. Surprisingly though, they’re not focused on the cosmic injustice of the planet ending, but rather on the regrets that people have over not having lived their lives differently. It’s certainly thought-provoking watching people faced with certain doom.

Steve Carell is perfect for a character like this. His awkward everyman walks disbelieving through the news initially, but as he slowly comes to acceptance, he truly makes the most of the time he has left. Keira Knightly’s Penny is flighty, but has a good heart, and makes it believable that she’d get Carell’s Dodge to open up, under the circumstances. They worked well together, for me, and added a lot of charm to the film. The movie is also fairly loaded with cameos. I wont spoil all the well-known faces you’ll run across, but there were quite a few notable names playing small roles here, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing them pop up, too.   

“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a charming little indie that offers laughs, loves and last rites. I found it an entertaining little movie.

B+

Daniel Fogarty

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51 thoughts on “Under the Radar?: “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”

  1. This really sounds like a lighter side of “Melancholia,” Which I had wondered what a mix like this would be like if the end was coming. I must say I am inspired to see it for its decidedly un-heavy hand in mixing comedy, romance and drama. Thanks Fogs!

    • No problem, buddy. I have to say, I was turned off of Melancholia when your buddy Roan there did a guest appearance on the Lambcast and that was movie of the month. As I recall, he was supportive of the film, but everyone else on the show KILLED it. LOL 8O Wasnt exactly encouraging :(

      This was decent though. Sweet and light… especially considering its about the end of the world, LOL

    • I can see how if you dont like her, this would be a rough go. I didnt mind her here though.

      I dont know how much potential it had that it didnt fulfill. Its really kind of just a low budget indie, so I’m not sure what else they could have gotten out of it :(

      • I think they could have probably been a more daring in their last days. The way they went about things was quite tedious and you wouldn’t think the world was ending at all. William L. Petersen’s character had the right idea ;-)

      • LOL. Well, then. Ok, Mark. 8O I’m glad they didnt both choose THAT route.

        Obviously I think budget considerations needed to be taken into account, I dont know that they could have staged full scale riots, etc. I think they touched on the fact people were freaking out at least.

  2. I’m with Walker and Orange too sir…Reviewed it sometime ago and didn’t care for it too much, but it did in parts prove to be “an entertaining little movie” Knightley never ceases to annoy, not sure why and Carrell who I normally love didn’t make me care too much, his misery got boring. Not without laughs, there were a few.

    • I thought “an entertaining little movie” was where it was at on the whole. Then again, I’m not annoyed by Knightley as so many people are, apparently. 8O

      There were a few laughs, I mean, its definitely one of those movies that’s not 100% a comedy… but I enjoyed that about it.

  3. I really liked the movie. The script wasn’t the best, but the lovely, seemingly impossible romance and Steve Carrel’s great performance really won me over. That ending was one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen in a while.

    • Sati to the rescue. Felt like a hater army here today for a minute there. LOL

      Yeah, I really liked the ending. I’m not 100% how much they earned it, but I suppose if you factor in the intensity of the fact that the world is about to end, they could get there. ;)

      Thanks for the support on this! :D

      • I’m not a big fan of Knightley, especially after seeing her ‘acting’ in A Dangerous Method, but she was fine here. Honestly the idea and the unusual pairing was enough to keep me from being bored, but I can see how it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

        The ending should be universally praised though, I cried more than whenever I see GoT and Jaime and Robb are NOT naked.

      • LOL. And… that’s a lot, I’m sure. LOL ;)

        The end WAS very good wasn’t it? Carell should do more drama, he’s definitely got a lot of talent.

        I havent seen A Dangerous Method, but I should. That would help me strengthen my Cronenberg filmography AND see if the Knightley haters are right… thanks for the reminder! :D

  4. Oh…I really enjoyed it. My favorite performance from Knightley (and I’m really not a fan either, but I liked her here) and possibly Carell as well. Loved the soundtrack too. What is most surprising is the sense of hope (and, strangely, happiness) that derives from a story about the end of life as we know it. I think it’s that element of human kindness and friendship that I loved so much.

    • The soundtrack WAS pretty great. Dammit. I should have mentioned it in the review. Nice point, Dan.

      I had no problems with Knightley here at all. I guess she just gets under people’s skins. LOL

      It did have a surprisingly bright tone for a movie about the end of all life as we know it. Thats one of the things I really liked about it, too. :D

  5. A comedy its not. That was the hardest part to swallow. I enjoyed Keira, bubbly to the end. I think this movie stays longer with the viewer than maybe it should, because it gets everyone thinking, What would you do?
    I rated it lower than you but certainly not a bad movie just no “happily ever after”!

    • Well, as you can see, there are plenty of people here who felt they wanted to pop Keira’s “bubble” LOL

      It does kind of get you thinking “what would you do”, and I think it deserves some credit for that. In addition to the fact that it’s an enjoayble little film, anyways. :D

  6. I saw this in the theater. Pretty good, I guess. The inevitable ending is certainly a downer, and sort of precludes it from having much rewatchability. Nevertheless, it did have good performances, and a different take on the romantic dramedy genre. I’m glad you liked it, Fogs.

    • Glad you did too, Mr Haus.

      The underlying fatalism kind of put everything in a different light, and I enjoyed that. I agree though, this one definitely isnt going to have a lot of rewatch potential. LOL

      “Pretty good” is a good assessment of it I think.

  7. Slightly uneven, but very believable in the way of how it paints a portrait of the end of the world. Sad in some ways, but happy and hopeful in others. Good review man.

  8. I’ve been moderately curious about this one. Not “hunt it down” curious but certainly “if it turns up” curious. Seen a lot of mixed reviews, but it seems like all the negatives consist of “I don’t like Keira Knightley”, so I’m inclined to dismiss those.

    • There’s a lot of anti-Knightley going on, no doubt. Aside from that, a lot of people got thrown off by the fact it’s not completely a comedy. There’s a lot of drama and some romance mixed in too.

      But I enjoyed it. Carell was good, I thought it was a decent idea, and it wound up being a decent little flick in my opinion.

    • Well, you might want to read some of the early comments here if you’re looking for dissenting opinions. LOL

      Personally, I liked it. It’s a quieter, smaller feeling sort of indie with a cool high concept and a bunch of cool cameos. :D

      I’d check it out if you get a chance, Cindy!!

      • I enjoy reading what everyone thinks–I enjoy Keira Knightley even though her voice annoys people and she has the same ten expressions for every film she’s in. My first impression I wondered about was whether this was her attempt to pair up with a comedian and play an American, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind….I value your opinion, so will give it a go!

  9. Loved it enough to put it on my “Best Of” list. And I’m also a fan of “Melancholia”. But the best end of the world movie is still “Dr. Strangelove…” (You can fill in the rest of the title)

    • Dr Strangelove? Hmmm… There’s more after that, you mean? Uhmmm…
      :)

      That’s a cool subject for a top ten.

      Meanwhile, I liked this, but I don’t know that it would have wound up top ten for me…

  10. It’s nice to see you giving this one some attention here Fogs. I liked it well enough in the cinema, then when I saw it again on DVD it charmed me more than I thought it would.

    • Saw it twice, even, huh? Cool. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Apparently it’s split the commenting body here… got some people that really liked it and a bunch who really didn’t.

      I’m one of the ones that did, though, for sure. Glad to hear you did too! :D

  11. I wasn’t a big fan of this one. It had a great concept and it started well, but it completely lost me by the time it hit the final act. I was disappointed that it went the conventional route — kind of wasted potential there, ya know? I did enjoy Steve Carell’s performance though.

    • Ahhhhh… I dont know that it went the “conventional route”, I mean, how many end of the world romantic comedies are there? Were you looking for a downer ending? That sort of thing?

      I enjoyed it, but I’ve come to understand its not everyone’s cup of tea!

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