June 28, 2012
by Gino Volpe
Sometimes, you have to be a little dour to get a laugh. In the biz, that’s what we call Black comedy. In the case of today’s film, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, it certainly fits the bill.
Our protagonist is a man named Dodge, (Steve Carrell). He’s just gone through a bad breakup, and by breakup I mean his wife flying out of his car after hearing on the radio that the world’s going to end within 3 weeks. This announcement hasn’t just affected Dodge and his wife, but the whole populace of the U.S. Riots have broken out, Dodge’s insurance company has gone under, the whole world has gone in a disarray because of the End of Days. And like most people under duress, they either riot (as mentioned prior) or they go into decadency. Dodge experiences this first hand at a dinner party where his friend unsuccessfully sets him up with a girl and then also fails at making a pass at him. Melancholic as he is, Dodge decides to make the most out of his time by planning on making one last trip to visit an old flame. Along the way, he gets an unlikely partner, Penny –played by a saccharine Keira Knightley- who becomes his companion on his trip as she travels to meet up with her parents.
The film itself has moments of genuine sweetness and really dark comedy. A lot of these play on the theme of the end of the world. As mentioned before, riots ensued and debauchery abounds, but nothing takes the cake more than Friendsys. Think Applebee’s but with complimentary orgies and pot. Plus the burger buns are made out of doughnuts. On the darker side, one vignette entails Penny and Dodge being mistaken for a hired assassin’s to help in assisted suicide. Needless to say, no matter what you expect, the scene is dark.
Actors all around did a fantastic job in the movie. Steve Carrell plays Dodge in a reserved, straight manner. No Michael Scott outbursts here, Steve is cool and collected but not flat. Any scene with a tender moment, Carrell is convincingly charming and sweet. Kiera Knightley as Penny is also a welcome addition. While she doesn’t stray far from playing Keira Knightley, the grating swan call of Elizabeth from the Pirates series is nowhere to be found. Her chemistry with Carrell is one of the highlights of the film, friendly banter and fights abound, the two make the realistic transition from friends, to eventual lovers that tickles the heart.
Some critics were disappointed with the ending of this film, I don’t understand why since with a film that has a labeled expiration date on its characters, you couldn’t go with many options. With the ending that was given, I was thoroughly satisfied and happy to have sat through the film. A nice, dark but sweet comedy that is well worth the price of admission or at least a stream on your movie service of choice.