Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is split into two parts. The first half is a buddy road trip comedy with a twist. Instead of two or three guys doing all the usual stuff, we have Steve Carrell as Dodge and Keira Knightley as Penny. Carrell is the typical schmuck he’s played in almost everything he has ever done. His wife has just left him for no reason, literally just getting out of the car and running away. Knightley has just left her boyfriend. She’s eccentric, strange, and often maddening.
There are two weeks left until some space rock is primed to strike the planet and cause the end of the world. Carrell receives a letter from his high school sweetheart claiming he was the love of her life. Thus, the two of them set out on a road trip to find her. What follows is a frantic, scattered, and overly stuffed narrative.
The second half becomes schmaltzy, cliche and too dramatic, with no help whatsoever from Knightley’s ridiculous and quite horrible acting skills, or lack there of. (Atonement is really the only thing she’s good in.) I haven’t seen such absurd and pathetic character development all year in a film that was actually supposed to be decent. Penny walks around with her hipster clothing and old records, because in the world of amateur storytelling, you can only be interesting if you like old music and refuse to listen to a CD. (Rolls eyes.) By the time she compared relationships to the crevices on vinyl, I wanted to punch her in the face.
I guess the film is decent in some ways, simply because the first half is actually quite amusing. Two strangers learning to live in a world that’s about to end. One is stiff, boring, has never gone for anything he truly wanted in life. The other is a dreamer, overly emotional, the hot younger woman.
By film’s end, there are too many plot holes to even list. If Dodge hadn’t spoken to his father in 25 years, how would he know said father had a plane? Was it just a whim? A guess? You mean to tell me that after pining over his long lost love, the love of his life, that by the end of the film he’s just going to give it all up for some woman he knew about four days? I suppose I can forgive this, as I’ve never been in a situation where there’s a meteorite stumbling toward Earth, and perhaps emotions are heightened.
But as far as narrative goes, Seeking A Friend is a major failure. I wanted Dodge to find the woman he lost so many years ago. Are they really setting up a story for ninety minutes only to completely diminish it with no payoff in the final ten? It’s insulting to the viewer. I wasn’t rooting for the relationship between Carell and Knightley in any sense other than a friendship. The movie goes completely haywire in its second half, and by the time the world actually does end, you really don’t even care. You’re just happy these characters have been put out of their misery. Thankfully, there was that first half. There’s also a cute dog.