Seeking a Friend for the End of the World tells the story of two strangers who are brought together by an impending asteroid strike that will destroy mankind. Dodge (Steve Carrell) and Penny (Keira Knightley’s) are propelled onto a journey to clear their consciences before the end, but instead of finding peace in the people they search for they end up finding it in each other.
It’s not your regular summer comedy. Despite moments of hilarity the film finds itself becoming much more dramatic and thought provoking, especially towards the end. Dodge’s journey to find the “one that got away”, although an age-old concept, provides a heartfelt backdrop to his and Penny’s journey. The film has been criticised for being “full of self-pity”, which seems to be a slightly naive criticism, especially when addressing the film’s subject matter: finding a meaning to one’s life before it no longer exists.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is triumphant in that it leaves the audience thinking about what they would do before the end. Would you be with your family? Would you attend one of the giant orgies referenced in the film? Or would you travel to see those places you never got a chance to see? Itsability to create a place for debating these questions is largely due to the excellent performances given by Carell and Knightley, as well as the supporting cast of characters, especially Frank (Martin Sheen), who go a long way to personalise the catastrophic atmosphere of the film.
However, despite the successes, it does fall short in some areas. The pace of many scenes is far from perfect. With the impending doom, one would think that the characters would have a greater sense of urgency, rather than the desire to spend a lot of time sitting around.
There are also a number of plot holes that nag throughout. For instance, why did the world’s governments feel that the best strategy to undertake, with only 21 days of civilisation left, would be to turn off all telephone and internet lines but maintain television signals? One has to feel that these forms of communication would be necessary for relatives and loved ones to contact each other in their final weeks. This may seem like a rather trivial criticism of a largely good film, but when intercontinental communication becomes central to the plot, it has to be made. Nevertheless, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is an enjoyable, thought-provoking.