End of World, Start of Humanity
RATED: ★ ★ ★ ★ buckets | WORTH: Matinee or DVD
Rated: R Language including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence.
Release Date: June 22, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 41 minutes
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Writers: Lorene Scafaria
Cast: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Nancy Carell, Adam Brody, Mark Moses, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Derek Luke
SYNOPSIS: As an asteroid travels through space on a collision course with Earth for a extinction event, insurance agent Dodge Petersen faces the end of the world alone but joined by neighbor Penny on a journey to find an old romance.
REVIEW: Screenplay writer of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Lorene Scafaria, return with a new story that she also directs. A lightly comedic look at the drama and angst that accompanies the end of life as we know it, Scafaria enlists the always earnest Steve Carell and the beautiful and brilliant Keira Knightley to tell the tale. When the last hope to destroy a asteroid on a collision course with earth fails, all of the news outlets announce that all of the people on the planet have less than a month before the extinction event occurs. When the news breaks, Dodge Petersen (Steve Carrell, The Office, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and his wife Linda (Nancy Carell, Bridesmaids) hear it on the car radio. Suddenly, Linda disappears from the car and Dodge's life, leaving Dodge to face the end alone. Dodge's friends face the end in different ways. His friend Warren (Rob Corddry, Hot Tub Time Machine) and his wife Diane (Connie Britton, A Nightmare on Elm Street - 2010) choose to have a part filled with food, drugs, and sex. Others, like co-worker Jeremy (Rob Huebel, The Descendants), end it all before the end. Dodge retains his normal routine of going to his insurance agent desk job and wallowing in his loneliness. When neighbor Penny (Kiera Knightney, A Dangerous Method) appears on his fire escape crying due to a breakup, Dodge lets her in for the night. When riots make the neighborhood too dangerous, Dodge and Penny leave town in search of their own last futures. Dodge looks to track down the first girl 'that got away' and Penny tries to find a way to get back to her family. Along the way, they meet others facing their own decided fates.
Like the recently limited release Safety Not Guaranteed and the wider released Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Lorene Scafaria utilizes an odd plot device to tell a very humanizing and heartfelt tale. We have seen the extinction event asteroid in Deep Impact andArmageddon, but the Bruce Willis film was a tent pole action extravaganza and the Elijah Wood version released the same year split the screen time between heroes and humanity.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World focuses wholly on the effects of the event at ground level. Revolving around Dodge Petersen, we see the world through his eyes. Even in the face of the end, Dodge's new found solitude and demeanour keep him detached from the rest of the people around him. Neither partaking in the last efforts of carnal or mind-altering acts nor seeking to mend any fences with his spouse or relatives, Dodge doesn't have any plans for the future until he discovers that his wife was cheating on him and his neighbor Penny hands him a bunch of undelivered mail that includes a letter from an often thought about old flame. Then rage and slim hopes spark enough emotion within Dodge to break the patterns and routines of his daily life to find something that will erase the regrets of his life.
Steve Carell as Dodge is just a regular guy in this film, playing more Dan in Real Life orCrazy, Stupid, Love than Dinner With Schmucks or Date Night. He is the human vessel that needs to be filled with emotion. Kiera Knightley as Penny is the opposite, brimming with the effects of bad relationships and the suffering from what her therapist said was a incessant need to be with someone. They run the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, but compliment each other perfectly on screen. In their travels, other characters flesh out the story. At a Friendsy's restaurant, host Darcy (T.J. Miller, Rock of Ages) and waitress Katie (Gillian Jacobs, Community) take the idea of a family themed restaurant to the ecstasy extreme. When Penny's Prius runs out of gas, a kindly trucker (William Petersen, CSI) picks Dodge and Penny up and regals them with the story of his life and that of his father's life. Others that Penny and Dodge meet are just as interesting, including an old boyfriend of Penny's, Speck (Derek Luke, Captain America: The First Avenger) who seems ready to ride out the last day.
Lorene Scafaria does not get lost on her own words, painting a picture of humanity that is both urgent and hopeful. While Dodge and Penny have to face destructive riots out their apartment windows, a news anchorman continues to keep the populace up to date on breaking news, offering a kind and familiar voice to those who turn on their televisions. Even as Dodge's friends cast aside the stereotypes of modern morality with free love and mind expansion, they are doing so to fill their lives with more than they used to have - not less. Scafaria even keeps the streets relatively clean and the the power on, with the hopes that the breakdown of civil services and utilities would wait until the last possible moment. There are some interesting ideas tossed out that coincide with the end of the word, including the hiring an assassin to take your life so you are left unaware of your last moments.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a film that asks what would you do if you knew how long you had to live. Crossing items out a bucket list, righting past wrongs, forgiving others or asking them for forgiveness, or just finding someone to be with when it all ends, Seeking a Friend... may make you wonder if working to balance your life's ledger may be best started now - before you are given a deadline.
Check out all of the most recent movie reviews @ www.HotButterReviews.com.