“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” looked promising. While I’m not a huge fan of Steve Carell, the man has talent and he’s often funny in that this-shouldn’t-be-funny-why-am-I-laughing sort of way.
The basic premise of Seeking a Friend revolves around the end of the world, as one might have gathered from the title. A huge astroid is heading for earth, and the last ditch effort failed when 12 astronauts died enroute to do who knows what to the 7-mile wide rock. Everyone has three weeks to live, what will you do with your last 21 days?
I nearly walked out after about the first 20 minutes or so. A morose Dodge Peterson, played by Steve Carrel, is morbid, and even more uncomfortable than Michael Scott could hope to be. In one of the early scenes after his girlfriend leaves him, Dodge visits a friend who spends most of the time berating his wife. At a party later, the same husband helps his 6 year old daughter down an adult beverage, telling her “ride through the burn, honey, ride through the burn.”
Keira Knightley is the narcoleptic (hyper-somniac), pot smoking hipster Penny, who suddenly realizes that all of her meaningless short-term relationships have led her to New York, an ocean away from her family back in England. She still has “meaningless, end-of-the-world” sex with Dodge.
If the first twenty minutes wasn’t mind-numbing enough, toward the end of the film Dodge shows up on the front step of his estranged father’s (Martin Sheen) house. The ensuing awkward and cliche “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you son / Don’t talk about mom” is forced on the audience. Penny watches a tender moment where dad and son are on the porch swing playing their harmonicas together, but the earlier argument was simply too unbelievable to get past.
Yes, Dodge and Penny find each other and fall in love, the ones that they were meant to be with all along, but the whole thing feels forced and one dimensional. In the end, everyone dies.
In a bid to get the film over with and spare us additional agony, the writers provide one of the few redeeming qualities of this film. They decided that the scientists had gotten it wrong – the asteroid would arrive a week early.