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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Movie Review: "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"

-- Rating: R ((language including sexual references, some drug use, and brief violence)
Length: 101 minutes
Release Date: June 22, 2012
Directed by: Lorene Scafaria
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Romance

"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" is a fun comedy romp about the very serious prospect of the world ending due to an asteroid impact. Dodge (Steve Carell) spends most of the movie looking for a lost love as he adventures through a world gone mad at the approach of a 70-mile wide celestial body that is speeding toward the Earth, menacing to destroy it. Dodge is determined not to let the madness and panic of those around him affect his quest. Hilarity ensues as society breaks down around him without seeming to affect him at all.

Dodge diligently plans out what he wants to do during the end of the world and isn't going to let anyone stand in his way. As the world explodes around him, Dodge calmly sets about his plan, seeking an ally in his quest who can provide him with the means to meet his goals. He attacks the problems with all the finesse born of a lifetime of boardrooms and managerial meetings, resulting in some very funny moments when the tool doesn't quite fit the job at hand.

Carell's performance as the disaffected Dodge is a highlight of the film. As riots and looting break out all around him, he confidently strides through the streets on his mission. The film's many hilarious moments often come at the character's expense as looters, lovers and distraught citizens spend their final moments panicking in the wake of the coming apocalypse. Dodge meets up with Penny (Kiera Knightly), a British woman who lives in the same complex and persuades her to drive him to Delaware so that he can find a plane and seek out his old flame.

Penny is an eternal optimist who seems to latch on to any cause she can find. The character refers to herself as a "serial monogamist," indicating that she's had many relationships in the past that haven't gone the way she planned. This doesn't deter her hope for the future, though. When she meets Dodge in distress, she can't help but become enamored with his straightforward demeanor and methodical approach.

Knightley's role complements Carell's perfectly as the duo adventure through the world gone mad. Cameos from major comedic actors only serve to enhance the skill of both actors and add to the funnier aspects of the movie. The movie never directly addresses the apparent tension between the two main characters, leaving the possibility of an emerging romance between them vague throughout.

Another unresolved issue that continues throughout the entire film is the end of the world itself. While most citizens seemed completely convinced of it, moviegoers may find themselves wondering if the entire thing isn't a major hoax, such as "War of the Worlds" or something similar.

Unlike traditional romance or summer action movies, the focus on this film is on how normal people react when faced with incredible circumstances. Chaos and disorder surround the main characters at every turn. Penny seems to notice and acknowledge it, but Dodge's response is often little more than a noncommittal grunt or simply stepping out of the way of oncoming traffic and debris.

"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" combines humor, romance and drama into a single package that should resonate with most viewers. Many moviegoers can understand the fear an end-of-the-world scenario can engender. Some may even sympathize with the looters and others who abandon their normal lives as they are convinced that the end of the world is imminent. The movie excels in delivering powerful reflections of society through the madness and explores the depths of loneliness through the main characters. Each of the two main characters delivers a powerful monologue and constantly exhibits signs of severe loneliness and even depression as the end nears. The performances of Carell and Knightly lend weight to these monologues and serious scenes without bogging down the film's otherwise light nature and humor.

The movie tackles intense problems ranging from personal responsibility when faced with exceptional situations to loneliness and whether or not the need to find a partner really matters in the end times. It does so with a finesse that showcases both the director's talent and only falters when overlapping sentiments of drama and comedy cause intimate moments or jokes to fall flat. Luckily, only a handful of such moments appear in the film. These are usually washed away by the next successful joke or serious monologue about life and love.

"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" is an excellent summer film worth seeing with a group of friends or on a romantic night out.

Rating 4 out of 5