The end of the world is a very bleak and grim idea. Yet, it seems to fascinate the hell out of us. That is probably because everyone secretly wants to know what happens after “all this”. The quickest way for everyone to experience that next step together would be for the world to end. Nobody wants to go into the afterlife alone, do they? If the Mayans knew what the hell they were talking about, we could find out this December.
Were the Mayans onto something? Probably not. Well, maybe not. Most likely not. I suppose it isn’t impossible. Regardless, they got people to talk about them for centuries. They have inspired all forms of media into exploring the end of the world. The most recent example of this is a little movie known as “Seeking a Friend to the End of the World”. This is a movie that doesn’t get into the aftermath of an apocalyptic event, but more or less explores what such an event does to the world when we know it is coming.
The movie centers around Dodge (Steve Carrell), a seemingly unhappy middle-aged insurance salesman. The story begins as an important announcement is transmitted over the airwaves via the radio and news broadcasts. The hail Mary effort to fly a rocket into space to destroy an Armageddon sized asteroid named Matilda have failed. There are roughly 4 weeks until impact and inevitable doom. This news does not sit well with Dodge’s wife (Nancy Carrell), who gets out of the car and runs into the forest, never to be seen again. Yes, the movie is bold enough to start this way.
As the movie goes on, we meet Penny (Keira Knightley), who lives in the same apartment building as Dodge. She breaks up with her boyfriend and ends up having to sleep on the fire escape. This is where she meets Dodge. They build a rapport which leads to them making a deal involving their doomsday plans. Dodge wants to go find a long lost love. Penny wants to fly home to England to see her family before everything goes black. Commercial flights have stopped at this point and Dodge says that he knows a guy who can fly her there. Penny happens to have some wheels to get Dodge to his true love. It is at this point the movie evolves into a dramedy of a road trip movie that follows the characters into the final days before that asteroid collides.
The previews make the movie to be a fun loving comedy. That is basically not the case here. “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a drama that takes a humorous look at a gloomy topic. The funny portions of the movie will make you laugh, but they are paced out throughout the film. What the previews could never convey is just how much heart is in the story. By the time the credits roll, you will be emotionally invested in Dodge and Penny. I won’t give you any hint to the emotions to will experience as it will ruin the movie for you. Part of the experience and feeling honest emotions is not knowing where this one goes. Trust me on that.
The story excels when it is showing the truth. You might ask how a fictional tale about the end of the world shows the truth. Well, it shows a lot of honest and genuine behavior that will likely be exhibited when the end is eminent. People will do some really irrational things. Some people will let go of their inhibitions. Some will try to knock things off that bucket list. Others will want to take advantage of the situation for personal gain. These situations are shown during the course of the film and lead to the funniest moments.
Steve Carrell gives what may be his finest performance to date. You knew he was destined for greatness all the way back when he did “The 40 Year Old Virgin”. Then he did “Little Miss Sunshine” and you saw more of his acting chops. Then he did “Crazy Stupid Love” which was a performance that got him closer to being an Oscar caliber performer. I wouldn’t be surprised if something comes of this role next February when the Oscar nominations are announced. Carrell’s muted and deadpan delivery is what makes his character work.
Kiera Knightley is solid. I can’t make any complaints of her performance. She expected to deliver in a dramatic role, however. Therefore, by relation, her performance isn’t as exception as her counterpart’s. The real fun performances are the short appearances by the likes of Patton Oswalt, Rob Corddry, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Derek Luke, and William Peterson. All of these people played characters that might seem to over the top in another movie. Here they just make it work. I can’t describe it any other way.
Should you go run and buy a ticket to “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”? No. See it when you can. It is one of my favorite movies of the year, so I highly recommend it if you do have the chance. If that is when it hits DVD, then so bee it. (I rate it 4/4 on the Stars system)