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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Review

Julian’s Rating: 6/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.8/10
(3 reviews total)

Although they live in the same apartment building, Dodge (Steve Carell) and Penny (Keira Knightley) have never spoken to each other, but as the planet faces certain destruction, the neighbors hit the road together, with Dodge planning to reunite with the one that got away and Penny seeking to meet up with her family.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World portrays Earth only weeks away from undeniable obliteration and having lost all sense of rationality and decorum. To be fair, though, wouldn’t you break all the rules if you and everyone else had less than a month to live?


The idea of laughing along with Carell and Knightley as they near the planet’s ultimate demise does seem peculiar, but “Seeking” is a good and, surprisingly, enjoyable film. Societal senselessness serves as the primary humor grab as the film begins, with enough drug- and sex-related jokes to make you wonder if you’re watching The Hangover instead. As it progresses, however, the humor moves to more introverted and mature territory. Small, witty remarks only go mildly for the funny bone at this point, and it works quite well, perhaps even more successfully than the broader comedy that preceded it.

To say the least, tones in the film change constantly but also without much rhyme or reason. It’s definitely more interesting than a wholly one-note film, but these shifts, including flourishes of tear-filled drama and tragic romance, are where the problems with lie. They make perfect sense on paper and in concept, but they don’t make their way into the film organically. In short, “Seeking” often feels like a series of shorts about the same primary characters than it does its own narrative.

Even with these problems, Carell and Knightley pull off their characters without a hitch. One might not expect Michael Scott of The Office and a frequent period piece leading lady to make for a plausible romantic duo, but that’s what makes their work here far more rewarding. The two succeed not only at selling the obviously unconventional friendship, but also making the chemistry seem believable despite shortcomings of director Lorene Scafaria and mastering the film’s ugly tonal shifts. Carell and Knightley make you feel for these potentially stock leads, and though they’re far and away the best thing about “Seeking,” actors  Connie Britton, Rob Corrdry, Derek Luke, Melanie Lynskey, and Patton Oswalt make the most of their bit roles.

At one point, “Seeking” is an introspective dramedy; at another, it takes on the role of a gross-out comedy. Don’t forget the moment when it plays like a full-out drama. Although she’s penned a great script, Scafaria doesn’t seem to have a firm grip on what she wants this film to be. Even though it’s an enjoyable flick, it’s never good for a film to have an identity crisis. Carell and Knightley find worthwhile friends for the end of the world, but hopefully your apocalypse-ready companions will be somewhat identifiable and less tonally unstable. Rating: 6/10

Steven thought:Seeking a Friend for the End of the World brings doomsday into romantic comedy territory and the resulting story has all kinds of notes, from humorous to romantic to downright dramatic. It’s a mess of moods fitting of the apocalypse, even if we prefer our films to be more uniform in their genres. Act I is the comedy portion of the film, in which Scafaria does a conscientious job imagining how affluent 40-somethings as well as other types would react knowing the world was set to end in three weeks time. It’s too bad the film abandons the humor once our leads hit the road together, but this is not the kind of apocalypse film you would expect to get wider in scope. Anyway, that’s when Carell and Knightley shoulder the load and do so with the utmost sincerity. Although the dialogue is sharp and poignant, it’s hard to imagine lesser actors keeping things believable and real down the stretch. “Seeking a Friend” offers strong scenes of various tones, but the patchwork could’ve been neater.” Rating: 6.5/10

Simon thought: “Twisted humor doesn’t get much more morbid than the opening half hour of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a frequently funny, always odd and ultimately touching dramedy about the end of days. Although the pitch-black jabs seem to fade as the road-trip comedy begins (it honestly seems as if director Lorene Scafaria opts to give up on the bleakness in favor of more traditionally storytelling), the well-matched leads of Carell and Knightley prove to be infinitely likable and bolster the material even as the zing from the initial bit fades. This is certainly not your average romantic comedy, and those with affinity for fare like The Notebook will likely be weeping for entirely different reasons when this film concludes.” Rating: 8/10

 

Rating
6.8

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