Friday, November 30, 2012

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (2012)

**This review contains spoilers**

A deadly asteroid named Matilda will destroy Earth in three weeks, and Dodge’s (Steve Carell) wife, Linda (Nancy Carell) suddenly abandons him without giving an explanation. Dodge tries to find some peace at a friend’s party, but after a few failed and forced attempts for a one-night stand, Dodge decides to spend his final days on Earth alone.

One night, Dodge tries to commit suicide by drinking cough syrup and window cleaner, but Dodge is still alive the next morning, and he becomes the owner of a stranger’s dog. Disappointed and looking for an escape, Dodge teams up with his neighbor, Penny (Keria Knightley). Dodge agrees to help Penny fly to England, so she can see her family one last time, and Penny will help Dodge find Olivia (an ex-girlfriend). Will Penny and Dodge find closure before Matilda destroys Earth?

Steve Carell delivers another enjoyable performance as the quirky and up-tight nerd, and Keria Knightley is solid as the free spirit, who will do anything to see her parents one last time. Martin Sheen has a brief appearance towards the end. He plays Dodge’s father, but  as far as Sheen’s performance goes, there’s nothing worth mentioning, because his screen time is regulated to cameo status.

Lorene Scafaria wrote the screenplay, and she makes her directorial debut here. Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World starts out as a whacky comedy about two people, who are looking for closure before Earth is destroyed by an asteroid. But everything slowly evolves into an emotional love story between Penny and Dodge.

A lot of critics and movie fans complained about the tonal shifts. I didn’t have a problem with the tonal shifts, because you have to remember, the world is coming to an end. Witnessing the sadness and dread from the main cast of characters didn’t irritate me, because earlier on, they enjoyed their final moments of life. But as time ran out, they realized it was all over.

All in all, the main cast of characters didn’t waste any time. They partied, had fun, and they the cherished their precious time with loved ones. But as Matilda drew closer, they finally realized the devastation of their inevitable doom. There was no escape, so the transition from a lighthearted comedy to an emotional finale makes perfect sense.

Also, the “disappointing ending” caused a lot of complaints. Dodge puts Penny on a plane with his father, so she can see her family one last time. But Dodge puts Penny on the plane, while she’s asleep, so Penny won’t have a chance to refuse the offer. At this point of the story, Penny and Dodge have already fallen in love after deciding to finally let go of their pasts. Anyway, Dodge returns to his apartment complex to die alone, but guess, who shows up? Penny! It was kind of predictable, but Penny shows up, because she decides to spend her final minutes on Earth with Dodge.

So they’re laying in bed together, and Matilda finally hits Earth. You can hear loud explosions in the background, and Penny starts to cry, as she begs Dodge to keep her awake (apparently, Penny has narcolepsy). Penny continues to cry, Evan keeps talking, the world is starting to crumble…… and then the screen fades to white to end the movie. 

This might sound like a disappointing ending, but I just have one question for all the people, who complained: what else were you expecting? Fiery Michael Bay style explosions? Or did you want to see an ending, where Dodge and Penny kiss each other one last time, as melting corpses with a dramatic score in the background, and more explosions? Dodge and Penny had a chance to say their good-byes to each other, and then it’s over. I didn’t need to see a series of fiery explosions, and Penny screaming in the ruins of Earth. No, Scafaria pulls the plug at the right moment, providing a gentle and heartbreaking conclusion.

Carell and Knightley share some excellent chemistry, as two very likeable main characters, and I enjoyed most of the humor in this film. It’s not perfect, but Seeking A friend For The End Of The World is one of the better apocalyptic films I’ve seen this year.

Final Rating: 8/10

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