Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the quality of apocalyptic themed films and more times than not it’s only a matter of how much one can tolerate the terrible. Oftentimes the tradeoff is a cornball idea to save humanity so it can survive until the next disaster threatens to wipe us all out, but when we know there’s no way out, we tend to just try and avoid film induced depression.
Even when the entire movie is cinematic gold with near flawless characters like 1959’s post nuclear war themed “On the Beach,” all the happy good moments can never quite remove a very heavy reality that most of us can only take in small doses. This film falls into a similar vein where we not only enjoy every goofy comedy nugget, we really can’t wait to greeted with the next one as it becomes more apparent the filmmakers aren’t going to sell out to be a storybook ending blockbuster. “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is not something meant to please a majority of moviegoers, but does what it can considering the subject matter to deliver something we can at least sit through and think about.
Set in a modern urban sprawl, we meet Dodge Peterson (Steve Carell) who is along with the rest of the human race greeted with the sobering news that a last ditch effort to destroy a 70 mile wide asteroid has failed. Not even given time to fully soak in the fact that there is no avoiding the destruction of all life, Dodge’s luck immediately spirals downward as he is left without any explanation by his wife Linda (Nancy Carell).
Instead of launching into a limitless supply of impulse like everyone else around him he doesn’t quite know what to do, at first sticking to what he knows be it selling insurance or wondering why his housekeeper Elsa (Tonita Castro) won’t quit to be with her family. He might just be content riding out his last days without a plan until his path collides with a very whacky neighbor named Penny Lockhart (Keira Knightley), who basically flips that whole idea upside down. Before he even realizes the good coming out of it, he’s caught up in a race to find someone he thought never had any chance with, with answers that may be right there in front of him all along.
Our two leading stars really makes for enough fascination to keep attention no matter how depressing the tone and a comedy duo I wouldn’t mind seeing do more routines in the future. Even the minor characters for a single or couple of scenes compliment their quirky running gags and almost make you forget at times what’s ultimately coming.
The key to being able to sit through this is to pick an opportunity where you aren’t already feeling down in the dumps. In the end, with the whole Mayan punch line nearing, it just seemed appropriate to get this in for those who still think a missing calendar will lead to our demise. This leads to a final verdict of two and three fourths out of five Armageddons for “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.”
DVD rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.