Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, and Martin Sheen - Rated R
This one squeaked by with a Commodus just because of the first, very funny part.
*Note: This review is going to be kind of spoilerish because I didn’t like the direction the movie took and I have to explain what that direction is for my review to make sense. Stop reading if you want to experience Seeking a Friend for the End of the World fresh.
End of the world movies have been very popular lately so it seemed inevitable that someone would make a true apocalyptic comedy. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World looked to be just that based on the previews and the first third of the film. Unfortunately, the filmmakers were more concerned with telling a love story than a comedy.
To be fair, a film should not be judged because the preview was misleading. That happens all the time. I am not judging this movie because of the previews I saw, I am judging it based on the first twenty minutes of it. Seeking a Friend… starts off as a humorous look at what people would do if they found out the world was going to end. There are parties in which people do the drugs they were always too scared to try, parents cuss at their kids, sex is fair game, and everyone casts off the veil of society and let loose. The first part of the movie is filled with stuff like that and I found most of it truly funny. And then the movie started.
Seeking a Friend… turns out to really be about Dodge (but let’s just call him Steve Carell, especially since he’s playing a role he’s played five or six times already), a very depressed man. Carell’s wife leaves him as soon as she hears about the end and he doesn’t handle it very well. He mopes through all the chaos until he encounters Penny (Keira Knightley), a quirky woman who inspires Carell to go looking for the one that got away. The two head off on a road trip and the movie slows to a crawl.
As far as road movies go, this one doesn’t. There is no sense of progression whatsoever. They leave the city and everything just looks the same after that and they suddenly end up in places they need to be. It’s all so boring. What doesn’t help is the fact that comedy is ditched when they get in the car. That’s when it all turns into a love story.
Early in the film a friend tries to set Carell up with a new girlfriend and he laments that it’s not worth wasting the time getting to know someone with the end so imminent. Because of that little piece of logic, the movie is held hostage to that idea as Carell listens to Penny’s boring stories that no one could possibly care about. I wanted to yell, “Shut up!” multiple times during this film.
Nothing against love stories, but this film just isn’t compelling. Carell’s reasoning early in the film should have been followed by the filmmakers. What’s the point in hearing all these boring stories? Oh, he’s falling in love! Cute. Now die. How stupid is that? They should be engaging in much zanier antics than falling in love. It’s the end of the world! Do something halfway interesting! Instead, when they come across an amusing situation (like a trip to made-up restaurant called Friendsy’s that has turned into a cult situation), they run away and get back to their boring crap in the car.
This movie was such a wasted opportunity and there’s no need to waste any more words on it. I guess we’ll have to wait for The End of the World for a true apocalyptic comedy. But definitely check out the first few minutes of this movie, because it really is funny. And if you can stomach a pointless romance, keep watching. I did, but I certainly regretted it.