McCabe: If you caught the trailer for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, you’d assume it’s a chortle-filled boink-fest.
Sorry to say, you don’t know jack about diddly, buster.
Clancy: In a way, it’s the most boring “apocalypse movie” ever made, but that’s why it works.
M: Promos would lead one to believe that Seeking is all about whimsical, end-of-the-world gags.
C: “They’re all going to die in two weeks, but they’re still doing normal things! Isn’t that weird?!?!”
M: But in actuality, the movie wades into some pretty dark territory, and it’s way more grown-up than it might give itself credit for.
C: And make no mistake, this opening is dark. Suicide attempts, grim hedonism, Rob Corddry boozing it up with toddlers—bad mojo. But the trick of the movie is that, over time, it mellows. The decaying city-scape of the beginning is supplanted by pastoral suburbia fairly quickly, and aside from a few stand-out moments (the Friendly’s parody-chain restaurant Friendsy’s, with its sexed-up raver staff, is particularly inspired) every scene ends up less fantastical than the one preceding it.
M: If you get bored with the constant dialogue in the second act, hold on—it’s key, and makes the third act all the more powerful. However, I did feel that Steve Carell was the average-est of Average Joes. Carell’s insurance salesman Dodge Peterson is supposed to be dull, but sometimes he can be downright unlovable.
C: Keira Knightley was great as Dodge’s tragically hip neighbor, Penny Lockhart. You could call this movie An Hour and a Half of Keira Knightley Laugh-Crying and dammit, I’d still watch it. Great cameos by Rob Huebel and the aforementioned Corddry, and a touching turn from Martin Sheen, round out the supporting cast.
M: Comedian Patton Oswalt crushes a minute-thirty of hilarious, sex-crazed madness early on, too. Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria, of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist fame, provides a pleasing, internally coherent film universe.
C: So … it’s a love story. A romantic comedy, even.
M: Yeah, pretty much. But, you know, a pretty decent one.
C: It gets into the cheesy, gushy cuddle-fluff too. In one scene Dodge gives Penny the ol’, “maybe you just haven’t met the right guy.”
M: Stomach contents … rising …
C: But during that scene, or any of the several scenes in the latter half of the film—set in family dining rooms, bedrooms, the front seats of a smart car—what you’re watching are characters idling time away as a big-ass meteor named “Matilda” hurtles towards the planet.
M: If Seeking A Friend for the End of the World is “boring,” or “unassuming,” or whatever you want to call it, it’s only because it has to be. When it comes time for the bitter end, you just might end up missing the seemingly inconsequential banter from the second act.
C: The banter that is life (man).
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD
OPENS | 6.22.12
RATED | R