Don’t you hate it when you meet the person who could be your soul mate but an asteroid is only weeks away from destroying the planet?
There’s plenty of reason to view “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” available this week on Blu-ray and DVD, with a heaping helping of suspicion. The tale of two lost people who find each other just days before the apocalypse feels too snarky by half.
Stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley refuse to let the film’s humor distract us, and promising writer/director Lorene Scafaria buckles down at precisely the spot where her story needs it the most.
Dodge (Carell) has the unenviable task of hawking life insurance at a time when the world is staring down a collision with an asteroid dubbed Matilda. He seems more distressed by the sudden collapse of his marriage than impending doom, so when he meets a free-spirit named Penny (Knightley) he perks up considerably.
Penny just broke free from a sad-sack beau and she longs to fly home to see her parents one last time. Dodge wants to reconnect with an old flame before the earth checks out.
They team up to help each other grasp one last blast of joy before the asteroid’s arrival.
“Seeking a Friend” seems content to rattle off some very funny business rather than mope over the End of Days. We get a riotous bit with Patton Oswalt as a single guy taking full advantage of the approaching doom. Even better is chronic scene stealer T.J. Miller as a chain restaurant server leading a pack of employees in a bacchanal blast of gaiety.
Yes, we see the occasional riot, and a brief sequence involving a convoluted hit fails miserably, but Scafaria keeps the tone mostly light. And just when you wonder if “Friend” is nothing more than a lark-filled riff on modern rom-coms Carell and Knightley click. Seriously.
Carell is a far better actor than most comedians, and he’s also more intuitive in selecting screen projects. Note: “Evan Almighty” wasn’t as bad as you remember.
Knightley, in turn, lets us into her character’s thought processes through tiny facial expressions and body language that keeps leaning toward the hapless Dodge.
Martin Sheen arrives late in the film, an appearance dovetailing with “Friend’s” most enchanting twist.
The Blu-ray extras include outtakes plus a crowded commentary track featuring Scafaria along with bit players like Oswalt and co-star Adam Brody.
The standard “making of” featurette has the same flaw many similar extras have – they spend so much time re-explaining the film we just watched as opposed to sharing valuable insights into the production.
Follow Christian Toto on Twitter at @TotoMovies