A bizarre, funny, and surprisingly touching film focused around the end of the world.
Steve Carell plays Dodge, a guy who is down on his luck because his wife just recently left him. Lonely and depressed, Dodge doesn’t quite know what to do during his last few weeks left on earth. No ladies and gentleman, Dodge isn’t dying of some terminal disease, but will die along with the rest of the human race as an asteroid is set to destroy the planet in 21 days. With nothing left in him but regret, Dodge befriends his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) as they take a road trip through New Jersey and seek out something to remember before the end of the world.
When I first saw the trailer for Seeking a Friend, I was interested in seeing the film simply for the premise alone. This was a film that looked like it wanted to tell a story about the end of the world rather than showcase some over the top special effects a la Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay. What I got was something that I don’t think many would expect and I am still not sure if many will appreciate. Seeking a Friend is a movie about the end of the world, but is strangely odd and what makes it even odder is that it’s extremely heartfelt and touching in the film’s final act.
Seeking a Friend is a film that attempts to be as realistic as an end of the world movie can be. It’s much more character driven then most movies that address the end of the world. I personally liked this element the most about the film as it really told the story of the final days on earth told from the perspective of both Penny and Dodge. While on this topic, I must point out that these two characters had really solid chemistry, which was something I was leery about from the trailer. Oddly enough, Carell and Knightley work together beautifully in this film.
Speaking of the film’s stars, it was very nice to see Steve Carell take on a role that really was different from most of the characters that he has played in previous films. As Dodge, Carell is solid because he is portraying a character that is both lonely and depressed. I can see people complaining that he has a blank stare on his face most of the film, but that’s honestly how a person with depression would look. It was nice to see Carell put the comedy to side and focus on the more dramatic aspect of his personality. It really worked for him and the character.
As for the other key character in the film, Keira Knightley is absolutely adorable and plays a really strange, but likable character. Just like Carell, this is a totally unique role for her and I liked seeing the more playful and comedic side of Knightley. This is a character I have never seen her portray, so it was definitely enjoyable and worked well for her. There are a lot of random cameos within the film like Patton Oswalt, Rob Corddry, and even Community’s Gillian Jacobs. These are all small but give the film those random “look who it is” moments that a lot of people tend to enjoy.
I can see many critics as well as people labeling this film as unbalanced because the film opens up in a truly subtle comedic fashion and quickly moves into how majority of the human race would react if they knew they only had a few weeks to live meaning they would drink it up, party hard, and have sex with as many people as possible. It then switches back and forth between comedic and dramatic and ends on a very touching note. I personally liked this flow of the film because it never got dull, but instead had you feeling a mixed bag of emotions that really kept me engaged in the story.
For a still newbie write and director Lorene Scafaria really hits it out of the park with this film. The script here is really what makes this film work as well as it does. There are some great laughs along the way including a very funny scene that is slightly spoiled in the trailer where Dodge and Penny go to this Friendzys restaurant. There are a few other scenes like the strange trucker scene that I also found rather humorous, weird, and well written. The direction by Scafaria is probably the weakest link in the film as it’s not tight enough and as much as I enjoyed this film there were a few scenes here and there that felt a little too tense or a little forced making them lose some dramatic effect. What’s odd though is that while there was a few that didn’t work; there were a ton of them that worked. It’s always interesting to see how certain scenes of a film work and others just seem too much.
In conclusion, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a really enjoyable and unique film. I personally can understand why some may not like this and how others will truly adore it. It’s a film that is about the end of the world, but that is used as a backdrop to tell a more character driven story. While the film isn’t a flat out comedy or drama, I do feel it uses both these elements well. It’s not like Melancholia so you won’t leave the film depressed wanting to slit your wrists, but instead you will hopefully feel moved like I did. It’s a shame that this film is being released in the mist of the summer season because I don’t foresee it doing well as a major summer release. It’s definitely a solid film that I would assume will become a cult classic for many. I highly recommend it especially if you are into movies that tell a good story with some solid character development.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a solid 8 out of 10. I really enjoyed this film much more than expected.