Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Hampered by a feeble script from writer-director Lorene Scafaria, “Waiting for the End of the World” doesn’t know whether it’s a comedy, tragedy, or romantic drama. The fairly inert movie adds yet more veracity to the reputation of Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” as the best apocalypse film to come along.
As in “Melancholia,” the end of the planet looms large on the horizon. An asteroid is on a certain collision course with Earth. Impact is due to occur in precisely two weeks time. Steve Carell shows a remarkable lack of comic character as Dodge, a sweater wearing — read “nerdy” — insurance salesman whose wife takes off with another man. Lucky for Dodge, his next-door neighbor Penny (Keira Knightly) is on the outs with her own less-than-desirable mate. Dodge and Penny team up more than hook up. The semi-romantically inclined duo set off on a road trip to track down Dodge’s long lost high-school girlfriend Olivia. If the journey happens to forge a reunion with his disenfranchised father (Martin Sheen), it comes as a minor consolation prize.
Other members of American society are busy looting, rioting, or hunkering down in readymade bunkers. Some of Dodge’s friends host a dinner party aimed at instigating an orgy to enable its participants to get off with whosoever they choose. Naturally, Dodge is too much of a prude to even consider such ribald activity. Too bad, since such messy sexual activity could have injected some much needed energy into the film’s blasé tone.
Keira Knightly is a fun actress to watch. Even in a movie where the story seems to fall apart around her, Knightly makes things interesting. Apocalypse movies have become a lot more common in the past year. If you’re keeping score, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is at best a guilty pleasure thanks to Keira Knightly’s presence. At worst, it’s a movie that bides its audience’s time on the way to certain death.
Rated R. 100 mins. (C) (Two Stars - out of five/no halves)
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