The world will end in three weeks, and no one knows quite how to play it in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
This film marks the directing debut of writer and actor Lorene Scafaria. Now in control for the first time, she wobbles, neither settling on a consistent narrative, nor into a defined mood.
But hey, when a giant asteroid is scheduled to hit Earth in three weeks, who’s looking for consistency?
What Scafaria does accomplish, however, is accentuating the folly of many of the things we seem to prize. Conversely, she also paints a convincing portrait of what would actually matter most to anyone faced with a certain imminent ending.
Steve Carell, doing his best Buster Keaton stoneface imitation, sleepwalks his way through his role as Dodge, a sad-sack insurance salesman whose wife has left him just about the time it becomes official that the nasty asteroid will hit.
Meanwhile, the rest of humanity has begun to act in much the same way Freud hypothesized everyone would act without religion. That is, with abandon — indulging in sex, drugs and excessive violence. In these early stages, comedians Rob Corddry and Patton Oswalt show up, acting outrageous and suggesting that all will be played for comedy.
But in the turmoil, Dodge and neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) meet cute, and before long, they have taken off for a requisite end-of-world road trip (with the requisite cute dog), so Dodge can find an old girlfriend. Along the way, they meet a survivalist (Derek Luke), a colorful old geezer with terminal cancer (William Petersen) and various other outcasts.
Even though the 49-year-old Carell and the 27-year-old Knightley look grossly mismatched, Scafaria leads her two main characters into the inevitable if awkward coupling — suggesting that when faced with impending annihilation, some people would obviously face it with a friend, however seemingly unsuitable.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Rated R, 101 minutes.