Seeking a Friend for the End of the World [2012]

Directed by: Lorene Scafaria
Written by: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Melanie Lynskey, Patton Oswalt, William Petersen, T.J. Miller, Gillian Jacobs, Martin Sheen, Rob Huebel, Mark Moses

The end of days is one of the best themes to deal with in film, I think. Impending apocalypse is a thoroughly interesting subject that can be explored in multiple ways and that can be adapted to any director or writer’s style.

Putting execution aside for a minute, War of the Worlds, Melancholia, The Road, 2012, among many others, work from intriguing premises and situations that give way to fascinating what-ifs.

As an account of the end of days from the perspective of two people, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World works. As a bittersweet, clever dramedy about the final weeks before Earth’s demise, it works too. As a romance, it fails miserably.

It’s there in the title: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, so when the relationship between Dodge and Penny (Carell and Knightley) takes a forced turn into romantic territory, it’s uncomfortable and unwelcome. The story didn’t ask for it and the actors share zero chemistry.

Carell, in another iteration of his tired, depressed loner character (after Little Miss Sunshine and Crazy, Stupid, Love., among others), doesn’t offer anything new. But his costar Keira Knightley shuns the stuffy gowns and shows impeccable comedic timing as the adorable Penny in one of the finest performances of 2012.

Bit parts and cameos by Adam Brody, Rob Corddry, Melanie Lynskey, William Petersen, T.J. Miller and Gillian Jacobs are fun but they ultimately can’t fix the disastrous (pun intended) romantic twist.