Jun 17, 2013

[Movies] Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Steve Carell is probably best known for his work on the TV series, The Office. But beyond that he seems to have a penchant for these odd comedy drama pieces like Dan in Real Life. And that pretty much defines his range as an actor - thus it sort of echoes the likes of Jim Carey, but still more distinguished, in my opinion.

When I first saw the trailers for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, it certainly seemed promising. I know it was going to be another movie that feels like a show reel pitching for Steve to become a leading man in more romantic comedies or something like that. However the overall premise of the inevitable end of the planet certainly added a certain sense of urgency to the overall narrative structure.

And there's a dog on the poster.

The movie wasn't quite what I hoped, but it wasn't overly bad either. And my specific issues with the movie are a little hard to determine off hand, but I'll try to explain over the course of this review.

Synopsis: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a 2012 comedy drama movie set in a near future when the Earth is threatened by imminent demise because of a massive asteroid. It was written and directed by Lorene Scafaria.

The movie starts with Dodge Peterson (Steve Carell) listening to his car radio just as it is announced that the mission of the Deliverance to attempt to redirect the 70-mile asteroid Matilda had failed. Now the world only has 3 weeks left before total destruction. His wife Linda (Nancy Carell) runs out of the car in silence and never returns.

So the world now struggles to maintain some semblance of normalcy despite the knowledge that almost everything is futile. Dodge continues to report for work as an insurance agent in an office where the position of CFO is now up for grabs. People are responding to the news of the end in different ways from utter depression leading to suicide or wanton abandon or morals in favor of hedonistic indulgence. And Dodge just doesn't want to be totally alone before the end comes - hence the title of the movie.

Now I feel that a LOT of thought went into trying to think about the different ways people were going to deal with the end of the world. And while a lot of this is presented in a rather humorous, comical way, still it's rather impressive how many different ways people responded to things. The suicides and looting are sort of par for the course for movies like this. But then you have the weirder cases like the people who hire assassins to kill them or the restaurants that decide to pretty much give everything away in order to continue to have a good time. People are sort of crazy that way.

Steve Carell is Steve Carell. He's a pretty good actor and an excellent dead pan comedian. And this is why he keeps ending up in movies like these - the ones with a definite indie vibe that leaves you half-expecting Bill Murray to appear as a cameo. They're not laugh-out-loud funny, but the kind of movie that gets you to chuckle now and then saying "that's so true" or something as you watch the scene. He's good at this type of role, but it's also not very exciting or compelling. It's like how he was cast for Hope Springs, where it didn't really seem that he added anything unique to the performance that any other actor could have managed.

Keira Knightly on the other hand seemed a bit more leaning past the crazy side of the spectrum. She's a good actress, yes, but I'm not 100% sold on her being great for this particular role. And thus the chemistry between the two didn't seem that palpable and left me wondering how the two got together at all. But that's the premise of the movie and so you just have to go with it, I suppose.

I wasn't too sold on the overall plot though. As much as I liked the explorations of society breaking down in different ways, the actual story was rather weak and just got weaker as the movie progressed. But the end, the resolution felt more than just a little half-baked. I'm just glad that the world actually did end since for a moment it seemed like there was a chance of a magical save of sorts. That really would have killed things.

Seeking a Friend at the End of the World feels like your generic sort of indie movie fare. It had some good ideas and some pretty strong actors but it just didn't quite come together in the end. Thus I can only rate the movie as 3 quirky signs posted on the community wall out of a possible 5.

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