Seeking a Friend For the End of the World
Seeing as we’re on the verge of the Mayan Apocalypse I feel I made an appropriate (if not predictable) movie selection last night. Seeking a Friend For the End of the World was a nice little romantic/comedy/drama about the end of the world. An asteroid is headed towards Earth and will impact in three weeks, and our last, best attempt to stop the oncoming armageddon has failed; this is where our film opens up. Dodge (Steve Carell) sits in the car listening to the radio announcer relay the news of the failed attempt as his wife gets out of the car and runs off into the darkness, leaving him all alone as the world waits to die. As we watch Dodge we observe how others in the world are dealing with the inevitable conclusion of everything. Some lose their inhibitions by having wild parties; some try to carry on life as normal and continue to go to work (such as Dodge’s housekeeper); others resort to rioting. His neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley), breaks up with her boyfriend and seeks refuge in Dodge’s apartment as her ex leaves. Having really met each other for the first time, Penny initiates their friendship by returning to Dodge all his misdirected mail that she has received over the last little while, and asks Dodge where his roommate and her boyfriend are, which now opens Dodge’s eyes as to why his wife had run away. After he deals with his anger, Dodge begins to sort through his mail and discovers a letter from his first love and high school sweetheart, Olivia. She had married and divorced since they last been together, but has always considered Dodge to be her true love. As the riots outside escalate, Penny and Dodge escape together; along with the dog Dodge unknowingly “inherited” from a stranger, when he was passed out in a park one night. (The dog was left with the simple one word note “Sorry” on Dodge’s chest, so Sorry becomes the dog’s name.) Now on a quest, the two start out to find Dodge’s lost love and then find Dodge’s friend with a plane that can help Penny get back to see her family before the world ends.
I quite enjoyed it. It was fun to see an “end of the world” movie from the viewpoints that they chose. We didn’t have to see the president on the hotline or saying farewell to the people of the world; we weren’t bored or burdened by painfully explained pseudo-science and techno babble; we got to see the various ways the “real” world coped and reacted. The developing relationship of Penny and Dodge and their separate quests (to find lost love and to rejoin family) are the dramatic points of the movie, through the various characters they meet we get a terrific dose of humour. Both Carell and Knightley give strong performances in their balancing act of comedy and (world ending) tragedy; and again I was struck by how effective a good soundtrack can be. The Walker Brothers “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”, Herb Alpert’s “This Guy’s In Love With You” and others really added to my enjoyment of the movie. With today being the Mayan Apocalypse, I’ve predicted that R.E.M.’s “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (and I feel fine)” will get a lot of radio play. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that the music was well done in Seeking a Friend For the End of the World – it was written (and directed) by Lorene Scafaria who previously wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
Some may say that the conclusion to the movie was predictable – and I may even be one of them, but as long as the journey to our destination is an enjoyable one, who cares? Enjoy what is set before you on the screen.
Boy, thinking back, I do really relate to Dodge a lot in this one – not only because of his situation, but because of the style of humour that Steve Carell used in his performance…