"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"


A dark romantic comedy that takes place during the end of the world would be a good description of the 2012 film with the long title.  With an asteroid careening towards Earth and our last chance of survival gone people have 3 weeks to live their lives before he end.  What would you do?  

Sad sack life insurance salesman Dodge (Steve Carell) sits in his car with his wife listening to a radio announcement that the space shuttle mission to save Earth has failed.  She then opens the car door and runs.  The ridiculously funny apocalypse jokes are jam packed in the first act.  Civil unrest and riots fill the streets of the major cities as civilization starts to come apart at the seams.  Dodge is very similar to other characters that Steve Carell has played.  The lonely down on his luck everyman who is stuck in a monotonous going nowhere life.  In a final insult, while sitting in his car outside his office building, a body falls on his windshield.  In a running gag, he has numerous encounters with his cleaning lady who insists on coming back to clean every week even when Dodge tries to let her go.  How people react to impending doom changes from person to person.  He is invited to a party thrown by a couple of friends and everybody has freed themselves of any inhibitions they might have had.  When people just don’t give a fuck anymore, things get a little awkward and weird.  Back at his place, Dodge is once again alone until he finds Penny (Kiera Knightly) crying outside his window.  When he opens the window Penny says “I won’t steal anything if you won’t rape me” and so their relationship begins.  When Dodge becomes suicidal and passes out in the park somebody leaves him a dog with a note saying “sorry”, which becomes the dog's name.   With the riots now starting to consume the neighborhood Dodge finds Penny, who grabs an armload of records, and they hit the road.

For years Dodge has been longing for the girl that got away, his high school sweetheart Olivia.  After finding a long lost letter from her he must now go out a find her while making a few stops along the way.  They stop off a chain restaurant called Friendly’s which has turned into a rave with all the waiters wearing glow sticks and on ecstasy.  We get some really good character moments between Dodge and Penny before they run off when the place starts to get out of control.  Like most road movies we end up going from one place to another and our next adventure is to one of Penny’s ex-boyfriends Speck (Derek Luke) who is hunkered down with a group of guys in an underground survivalist shelter.  Penny is able to use the guys' satellite phone to call home to England and talk to her parents.  The next morning Dodge and Penny are given a tiny blue Smart Car that will take then to the end of their journey.  The plot is very simplistic, but the writing and acting come across as very genuine and touched with feeling.  Dodge and Penny are a good match because even though they are very different people they seem to connect in a number of ways.  It seems the only way they would have gotten together would be through the apocalypse.  When you only have 3 weeks to live you tend to make decisions a little more quickly.  Hesitation and prejudices just don’t seem to apply anymore.

When we arrive at the third act it is pretty similar to other romantic comedies.  Dodge makes a big decision that will separate the two of them but thinks it’s for the best.  Only to have a big revelation just before the screen fades to white and the world has been destroyed.  Ooh, I just got chills.  “Seeking a Friend for the end of the world” is good fun and a refreshing joy to watch.