Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World
Directed by Lorene Scafaria
Written by Lorene Scafaria
Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Patton Oswalt, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Melinda Dillon, Rob Huebel, Gillian Jacobs
Rated R | 93 Minutes
Release Date: June 22, 2012
“It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.” – R.E.M
Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria (writer, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World is a warm, charming, and well-acted film that explores what people will do when humanity’s last days are at hand.
As the massive asteroid Matilda hurtles toward Earth, Dodge (Steve Carell) finds himself alone after his not-so-faithful wife (Nancy Carell) abandons him in an apocalyptic panic. This isn’t Armageddon though, Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck aren’t going to save the day this time. Dodge and the rest of the human race have 21 days until Matilda smashes into the planet, an extinction-level event no amount of “Leaving On A Jet Plane” and animal crackers can prevent.
Dodge attempts to carry on with his mediocre life while the rest of the world spirals out of control. He goes to work, where he attempts to sell insurance – a thankless task in the end times. Around him, friends and strangers are breaking every rule in the book – looting, doing copious amounts of drugs, committing suicide, and having unprotected sex with, well, everybody.
While Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is ultimately a life-affirming comedy, there are sobering tonal shifts that remind us we are watching the end of the world. Things have gotten so desperate in this too-near future that people have hired professional killers to assassinate them before the world ends. Suicides are frequent and dead bodies are scattered throughout the film.
Dodge sees his grief-stricken neighbor crying outside his window on the fire escape. Being the good-hearted person he is, Dodge opens the window and offers help. She introduces herself as Penny (Kiera Knightley) and offers, “I promise I won’t steal anything, if you promise not to rape me.” Sure, it’s funny – the idea of the 40-year-old virgin aggressively attacking a non-Victorian era Knightley is humorous, but in context it’s a desperate situation you’d expect to see in The Walking Dead or The Road.
In a last-ditch effort to make the rest of his life meaningful, Dodge sets out on a pre-apocalyptic road trip with Penny to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Along the way they’ll encounter every end-of-the-world scenario possible, from underground bunker survivalists to hedonistic waitresses trippin’ balls on ecstasy with glow sticks and 37 pieces of flair to match.
Scafaria’s directorial debut is a solid, uncompromising film that demonstrates the inherent loneliness of being human and the comfort we seek in interpersonal relationships. Carell and Knightley both turn in excellent performances in a movie that feels somewhere in-between Safety Not Guaranteed and Shaun of the Dead. There are some brilliant cameos by fantastic actors and comedians like Patton Oswalt, Connie Britton, Martin Sheen, Rob Corddry, Melinda Dillon, Rob Huebel, Gillian Jacobs, and T.J. Miller.
Overall, I suppose some will find the film’s final act disappointing, but I applaud Scafaria for following through on the film’s premise. If the natural disaster apocalyptic plot is just an over-the-top metaphor for death, then Seeking a Friend for the End of the World examines the things that make life worth living. This isn’t a movie about preventing Armageddon, but rather embracing it and finding comfort and catharsis in the life you’ve been lucky enough to live.
It’s incredibly depressing and yet ultimately uplifting – a wonderful little film that is heartfelt and optimistic, even in the face of unyielding fire and brimstone.
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