Title: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Starring: Steve Carrell, Keira Knightley
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Release Date: 13 July
A failed attempt to stop an asteroid striking the earth means that humanity will be destroyed in three weeks. Dodge (Steve Carrell) has been abandoned by his wife and he is bleakly awaiting the inevitable when he decides to make a final attempt to find an ex-girlfriend, his ‘true love’. He teams up with recently met Penny (Keira Knightly) who are both in search of loved ones, the main question of the film being ‘If you knew were going to die who would you want to spend your last moments with?’
Viewing Seeking a Friend purely as a disaster film it’s actually quite unique. We’re all used to the ‘How are we going to stop this asteroid/bomb/alien invasion’ story but from the opening line of it’s confirmed that everyone is definitely going to die. This hopelessness lends itself pretty well to either a dark comedy or serious drama but Seeking a Friend tries to do both. It’s commendable and definitely an original balancing act of clichés but its failure to stick to either drama or comedy is uncomfortable at times. For instance, there’s a rib-tickling section where Dodge’s cleaner doesn’t understand that it’s pointless to come back next week (ho ho! The end is nigh, you silly goose) only to be followed a minute later by a grim scene of Dodge’s co-worker diving out a window onto the windscreen of his car. The drama takes away from the comedy more than vice versa but if you’re looking for a rollicking good time welcome to disappointment.
Still, once it gets going the tone becomes a bit more jovial (less suicides and the like) and turns into 500 Days of Summer mixed with Deep Impact. To an extent it follows the irritating tropes of the former as a depressed and pessimistic male meets an optimistic yet naïve girl who teaches him how to love life. In other indie-style films the characters comes off as annoyingly self-involved and melodramatic about their mundane lives but, strangely enough, when the world is about to be destroyed you can forgive the self-absorption. It’s the doomed feeling that gives the relationship of Dodge and Penny believability, both of them desperately searching for company.
Seeking a Friend is a valiant effort to try something knew but sticks too closely to everything you’ve seen before to be great. What you end up with is one of the better versions of the clichéd romantic comedies that is too uplifting to be a dark comedy and too humourous to be taken completely seriously. It’s a bit off a mess and has a very ‘let’s just finish this film’ final act but has enough charm and genuine feeling that gives a hint of what could have been.
In a Nutshell: A strange mix of drama and comedy that doesn’t quite work but has moments of charm.
by Conor Barry