'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World' Review: Carell & Knightley Shine in Grim Comedy
"The end of the world" has been quite a popular trend in movies of late.
Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion" was about a fatal virus that was spreading quickly enough to wipe out the entire human race. Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" concerned a planet scheduled to collide with the Earth, ultimately destroying everything in its wake. And most recently, Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" featured an entire species that wanted to travel to Earth and eradicate the human population.
So why does Hollywood like exploring "the end of the world" stories so much? My guess is because most audiences find entertainment, intrigue and curiosity on the subject. Plus, an "end of the world" premise is usually tied to an action movie, which brings in big box office dollars.
Out of all the films we've seen before including "Armageddon," "Independence Day," etc., there's not a doubt in our minds that everything's going to be OK and life will go on. It's interesting to come across a film like "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" that makes you question what the conclusion of the story will be.
The film opens with the world well aware of a 70-mile wide asteroid, nicknamed Matilda, that is heading straight for Earth. The media seems to be acting normally, and the general public has strangely come to terms with their fate. Between the drug-induced parties, job resignations and people flying home to be with their loved ones, it's a bit unusual to see so many folk accepting that end is truly near.
Despite what everyone else is doing, Dodge (Steve Carell) is still playing it safe and attempting to go on with his life, even though his wife (his real better half, Nancy Carell) recently left him. While watching the news one day, he sees his neighbor, Penny (Keira Knightley) outside his window crying hysterically. Penny is distraught because she just missed the last flight back to England and she won't be able to say goodbye to her loved ones. Dodge invites her into his apartment, and the two practically become best friends overnight.
Penny, an optimistic free spirit, learns of Dodge's high school girlfriend and convinces him to find her before Earth's untimely demise. The two set off on what becomes both an emotional and exciting journey for them.
Carell has tremendous range for a comic actor. From his hilarious performances in "Anchorman" and "The 40-Year Old Virgin" to his more touching roles in "Dan in Real Life" and "Crazy, Stupid, Love," he is one of the best actors working today. And he's a joy to watching in "Seeking a Friend."
Knightley, best known for period films like "Atonement" and "Pride & Prejudice," dulls down her look and proves her ability to be funny as needed. She and Carell boast wonderful chemistry, and it's quite amusing to watch the unlikely pair interact on screen.
"Seeking a Friend" isn't a perfect film, but it leaves us with big questions while we enjoy the romance blossoming between Dodge and Penny.