Review of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

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This 2012 comedy revolves around a man called Dodge (Steve Carell) whose wife takes off as the end of the world nears from the impending doom of an asteroid crash. He teams up with his longtime neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) to find his old childhood sweetheart before the world ends.
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So it’s probably not the title you’re looking for in a comedy, much less a romantic one. But Steve Carell (seeming to have GPS for tracking down the few smart romantic comedy scripts in Hollywood), with his hangdog face and excellent comic timing, again finds an adult comedy well-suited to his gifts, and his co-star keeps up with him perfectly. He plays Dodge, an insurance salesman who, like the rest of the world, is coping with the fact an asteroid is about to annihilate Earth. Only while everyone else does what they feel like doing to close out their last month on Earth, Dodge’s funk goes deeper since his wife has chosen now to leave him. As the end approaches, he meets Penny (Keira Knightley), a flakey, emotional Brit who just missed the last flight to London to see her family. As the riots in the city get worse, both decide to take a road trip, he to see an old girlfriend and she to hopefully meet up with a friend of his who has a plane. They meet several people along the way, some of the best encounters including TJ Miller and“Community” star Gillian Jacobs playing perky Friday’s-type waiters ringing in the apocalypse high as kites and later, Martin Sheen as Dodge’s father.

The first half offers the funniest stuff, as people succumb to the panic, need fulfillment, and meaninglessness (“Anybody want to be the new CFO?” one character asks) of their new existence. Though eventually it becomes Carell and Knightley’s movie and they pull it off with an endearing chemistry, vulnerability, and deadpan humor. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria (writer of“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”) takes a few missteps (scenes involving CSI’s William Peterson and Derek Luke miss the comedy mark) but the witty, sweet screenplay lets these characters talk organically and keeps its focus on what's most important in life. And when you have actors like Carell and Knightley, you don’t have to look too far to find the heart of the story you seek.