Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World DVD Review

Remember the movie Armageddon?

Well, whilst Bruce Willis is busy assembling a ragtag team of reluctant heroes and rushing to save the earth from certain annihilation, what are the rest of us supposed to do?

That’s the question initially posed by Lorene Scafaria’s directorial debut, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, a film which deals with the minutiae of human emotions against the grandest of backdrops.

The story begins at the point where said Willis-esque heroics have spectacularly failed and the world’s fate has been sealed. People accept their death-by-asteroid fates and simply try to make the most of their remaining weeks.

Among them is Dodge Peterson, a forty something insurance salesman who’s been getting a real surge in calls lately and a desperately lonely soul.

More than anything, Dodge wants to connect with his high-school sweetheart before his and everyone else’s world ends.

Happily enough, the free-spirited and outgoing Penny stumbles into Dodge’s introverted and awkward existence as the pair team up to fulfil their final wishes.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World starts off intriguingly, charting the range of behavioural and emotional reactions to the impending apocalypse.

So despair and regret convincingly rub shoulders with self-indulgence and recklessness, all executed with a sense of humour darker than you might expect.

Rolling out his loveable loser shtick once again, Steve Carell is spot on as Dodge. Understandably enough, he spends most of the film moping about feeling sorry for himself, even adopting an abandoned dog called Sorry at his lowest ebb.

Keira Knightley plays against type as the converse trainer-wearing, vinyl collection-cradling Penny.

Now, I’m not the world’s biggest Knightley fan and she seems to be doing her level best to channel Kate Winslet’s kooky Clementine from Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind here.

Ultimately, Miss Knightley lacks the same conviction that her acting contemporary from merry old Blighty manages to pull off in a similar role, as Penny’s transformation from wild child to girl-next-door doesn’t ring true.

And there lies the main problem with Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World. Too quirky to be a drama, not funny enough to be a comedy and the film’s tone changes from surreally comic to slightly mawkish as the relationship between Dodge and Penny develops.

This is not a good thing.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t any comic moments, William Petersen, Adam Brody and some nicely surreal touches involving a restaurant called “Friendsy’s” will make you laugh out loud.

And it’s still a solid debut from writer and director Scafaria, with a particularly bold ending.

And if the Mayans are right, then we’re all doomed this year anyway; so why not laugh about it?

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

November 2012