Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World * *
Director: Lorene Scafaria.
Screenplay: Lorene Scafaria.
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Martin Sheen, William L. Petersen, Adam Brody, Derek Luke, Rob Corddry, Connie Britton, Melanie Lynskey, T. J. Miller, Mark Moses, Patton Oswalt, Gillian Jacobs, Amy Schumer, Rob Huebel, Bob Stephenson.
Maybe it’s to do with the 2012 Mayan prophecy but over the last couple of years, there seems to have been a recent fad of ‘end of days‘ movies. So far, we’ve had Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia“, David Mackenzie’s “Perfect Sense“, Mike Cahill’s “Another Earth” and now this. Of the four though, I’d have to say that this is the weakest.
A 70 mile-wide asteroid named Mathilda is on a collision course with Earth with attempts to divert it thwarted. Earth will be obliterated in 3 weeks. Throughout this time, Dodge (Steve Carell) and his British next-door neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley) strike up an unusual friendship and embark on a road trip that should suit them both. Dodge wants to track down the real love of his life and Penny wants to get back to Britain to spend her remaining days with her family. Along the way though, things don’t turn out exactly as planned.
The major problem with this film is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be; it starts off with some sharp observational and gallows humour but doesn’t manage to be a laugh out loud comedy. It then delivers a serious dramatic tone – while pitching in elements of science fiction – which, surprisingly, bog it down in tediousness from which it never recovers. The genre in which it is most suited is romantic-comedy but the characters are dull and their situations even more so. It also suffers from an extreme lack of pace. You’d think that a film that delivers a premise of the entire earth having 21 days to live would have a bit of urgency about it. You’d also be forgiven for expecting some ridiculous ‘bucket list’ scenarios but it simply doesn’t provide them, despite threatening to on occasion. There are sporadic moments where it promises to get it’s groove back but ultimately falls into a slow and meandering cross country love story that, for the most part, is dreadfully uneventful.
Steve Carell is starting to annoy me in these kind of tragic, everyman, loner roles and I’m not a fan of the snobby Keira Knightley at all; I can’t get over the fact that she always comes across as if she was born with a silver spoon up her arse. There are some welcome appearances from the likes of Martin Sheen (who needn’t have bothered) Patton Oswalt and William L. Petersen – the latter in particular getting a much needed humorous scene involving the expected appearance of a hitman. It’s little moments like this that make the film all the more frustrating; it shows glimmers of great potential but doesn’t stick to what it does best and ends up being tedious and melancholic. After all this has (finally) passed by, the film almost redeems itself at the end with a lovely and touching moment between the protagonists but by then, it’s too little too late.
Despite not being a massive fan of the two leads, I was intrigued by the films premise. That being said, any potential it had was floundered by delivering scene after scene of mind-numbing emptiness.