Seeking a Friend For the End of the World

Year: 2012
Production Co: Anonymous Content
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Writer: Lorene Scafaria
Cast: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Rob Corddry, Connie Britton, Martin Sheen, Melanie Lynskey

Steve Carell again plays it straight in this underappreciated dramedy, and Keira Knightley seems like the perfect foil for him. There's a giant asteroid heading for Earth and it's announced that the latest effort to save mankind has failed – the world will be destroyed in 30 days.

Nerdy, ineffectual Dodge (Carell) is like the millions going on about his life with no real alternative, unlike the many people going crazy. His wife leaves immediately, giving him even worse inertia in his life than he had, so he goes to work selling insurance like usual where an overly cheery boss is trying to fill job openings that have been vacated by people who are much smarter than Dodge and those like him ('Anyone want the job of CFO?')

The party held by friends Warren (Corddy) and Diane (Britton) is also high comedy, giving booze to the kids, distributing heroin and all trying to sleep with each other.

But Dodge comes across his upstairs neighbour, young Englishwoman Penny (Knightley), crying on the balcony, so he invites her inside and they talk. Not having ever had much to do with her, Dodge and Penny start to make friends, and when she reveals she's been receiving his mail for years and not passing it on, he finds a letter from an old girlfriend, the love of his life, wanting to reconcile now the world is ending.

Dodge decides to drive cross-country to see her, and as rioting closes in on their apartment, Penny goes with him. As they get to know more about each other, it becomes more dramatic as their respective issues surface. Dodge is suffering from paternal conflict syndrome, one he'll have to try to settle before the end, and Penny can't forgive herself because she's so disorganised and leaves everything too late she now can't return to the UK to see her family.

For a small budget movie there are several quite inventive scenes that convey a realistic modern world with only a month left to exist, and a slight mood of doom pervades the movie. Some sequences like the themed restaurant are funny, and some are poignant and downbeat, like the jumper that falls on Dodge's car.

But it's emotional and cute and the two leads have an unexpected chemistry that carries the movie.

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