Thursday, June 28, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Review

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World starts out with mild mannered insurance salesman Dodge Peterson (Steve Carell) in his car, listening to the radio. The DJ announces that the mission to stop an asteroid from hitting the earth has ended in disaster. The earth has twenty one days left. Armageddon this aint. By the way, the DJ tells the audience they will countdown the days along with the classic rock hits.

While waiting for the end, Dodge finds out that his neighbor Penny Lockhart (Keira Knightley) has been collecting his mail when it's been incorrectly delivered. He finds a letter from an old flame, Olivia, that professes her love for him. Dodge and Penny escape a riot and she convinces Dodge to find Olivia before the world ends.

There are no CGI asteroids heading to earth in Seeking a Friend, and no action set pieces of car chases or fighting off rioters with guns. This is a dark comedy. For a movie like this to work, it must have good writing, directing and acting. Seeking a Friend, has all three. And it's not just good, it's excellent. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria has written a screenplay that is humorous, smart and touching. All the jokes work because they are not way out of context. The dialogue feels real. Her direction is good because she knows her actors. She focuses on them when the drama requires it. Knightley is charming as the goofy Penny. And Steve Carell gives his Dodge a world weary facade. For a man known for his comedy, Carell demonstrates he can do drama as good as any actor alive. It's a bravura performance.

It's refreshing to see intelligent movies released during the summer. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World asks profound questions. How does one deal with the end of life? What defines civilization? It also raises big ideas. Finding love can happen at any time in a life. The grade is A.

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