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Film review: ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’

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Dude, Keira Knightley is on your friggin’ couch! Why are you just sitting there?

The Details

Seeking a Friend for the End of the Word
Two and a half stars
Steve Carell, Keira Knightley
Directed by Lorene Scafaria
Rated R
Beyond the Weekly
Official Movie Site
IMDb: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Rotten Tomatoes: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Just once it would be nice to see a Hollywood movie about male-female friendship that didn’t turn into a romance. For a little while it seems like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World might be that movie: It has “friend” right there in the title, and the central relationship between depressed insurance salesman Dodge (Steve Carell) and flighty bohemian Penny (Keira Knightley) is initially platonic, motivated more by loneliness and despair than romance or lust.

Dodge and Penny are neighbors who connect in the final weeks before a giant asteroid is set to hit Earth and obliterate all of humanity (a scenario whose plot holes become more and more apparent over time), bonded by their mutual desire to seek some personal connection during the end times. Dodge wants to reunite with the long-lost love of his life, and Penny hopes to see her family one last time. Seeking a Friend briefly seems like it might turn into a road movie, but Dodge and Penny don’t travel very far, and their journey is disjointed and episodic, moving from broadly comedic scenes to serious moments of regret and melancholy.

Writer-director Lorene Scafaria was the screenwriter behind the sweet, believable romance in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but here she stumbles in her efforts to craft a love story between Dodge and Penny. Even beyond their 22-year age difference, Carell and Knightley never connect on an emotional level, and as the movie becomes increasingly about their all-consuming love, it loses whatever hold it had on the audience.

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