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It feels like we’ve just about seen it all when it comes to apocalyptic films; the post-apocalypse, the close call, the comedy. Somehow, though, we manage to roll every trope into one with Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, the 2012 (ha, I see what they did there) feature starring Steve Carrell and Kiera Knightley, leaving us with a surprisingly poignant film that doesn’t try to run away from the pending doom that every character faces.
Let’s start at the beginning: this is a movie about the moments leading up to the end. We start a few weeks out from a predicted meteor strike and get a rarely-filmed glimpse at life as it might look when everyone knows everything is going to shit. People are quitting their jobs, hosting grand parties, doing drugs, running away, killing themselves… you know, the usual things people plummeting toward doom do to ease their anxieties and pass the time.
Like I said, not really a ‘feel good’ way to kick things off, but it serves its point.
Dodge (Steve Carrell) is one of these people dealing with the last days; his wife has left, he has no friends, and by pure happenstance with just two weeks left until the predicted end of the world he meets Penny (Kiera Knightley) and suddenly does not have to be so alone.
The story from here is somewhat predictable; as best as I can share without an onslaught of spoilers, our protagonists decide to take care of some end-of-days business and end up on a road trip of sorts, and grow closer throughout the story. The entire thing is peppered with occasional comedy (a scene where they go to a TGIFridays-esque place is a favorite moment) and occasional sadness, but we really feel like these two characters come into their own in a way that makes you wonder what life might be like for them if the world doesn’t for some reason end.
All in all, I actually really enjoyed the film in spite of the grim subject material. My biggest beef was a relatively small one: if you’re bored of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, Penny is going to have a tough time winning you over. It can be a little exhausting seeing female character after female character fall into the trap of being the weird quirky angel from heaven sent to “save” some down on his luck guy who is otherwise pretty unlikable, but she certainly isn’t the most egregious example and so long as she wasn’t falling into the trap of the trope, she actually brought a whole lot to the story.
If you’re looking for an Anchorman-esque comedy, this might not be the film for you, but if you’re in the mood for some gallows humor and a surprisingly heartwarming story, I think you’ll really love this movie. I did have some reservations while watching it, but it left me really thinking about it after the movie’s conclusion, which is always a win in my book.
Perfect for: Date night or an anti-date night, depending on the type of films you like. Many of you will likely find this to be the perfect film to cuddle up with your significant other!
You’ll love this if: You prefer your comedy to have serious undertones or to give you something to think about later on or while you’re watching.
Watch out for: There are ample references and examples of suicide and drug use, if that sort of thing makes you uncomfortable. Most of these references get out of the way in the beginning of the film, though.
Where to find it: On Netflix, or you can help support the blog by picking it up on Amazon.