This film, which examines human behavior in the face of impending extinction, has an intriguing first half hour, particularly as it surveys society’s general response: rampant promiscuity, orgies, drug use, and rioting. Some moments are so shocking and uncompromising that I wish these could be salvaged as part of a better film yet to be made on the same subject.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is less interesting as it abandons the apocalyptic tableau and focuses on the individual concerns of effeminized, self-pitying wimp and non-leading man Steve Carell, whose cheating wife has abandoned him at the news that humanity is doomed, and his new friend, annoying neighbor Keira Knightley. Specifically, the movie goes into an irrevocably accelerating nosedive from the pointless moment the pair drops in to visit Knightley’s black survivalist ex-boyfriend.

As for the cast, Carell is fun to watch when the material is good, but I’ve learned that I have only a limited tolerance for Knightley’s endless cutesy facial posing. Patton Oswalt appears briefly as a character named Roache and delivers some embarrassingly obscene dialogue, and Martin Sheen wastes a few minutes of what remains of his life as Carell’s estranged father.

Ultimately too self-consciously quirky, uneventful, and self-important, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is at best a high-potential but squandered opportunity. Carell’s dying world and his interactions with friends and with Knightley hold out the promise of something new and unique in cinema – apocalyptic films tending to be uniformly grim or action-oriented, whereas this could have been an apocalyptic romantic black comedy – but it ends up feeling more like 30 minutes of serious thought and 60 minutes of mopey, superficial navel-gazing and disposable tongue-in-cheek humor and sentimentality. Just an average 3 of 5 stars.

My advice: see the imperfect and frustrating but conversation-sparking film The Rapture (1991) instead.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is:

3. (Arguably) anti-Occupier, as Knightley’s lazy, arrogantly jobless live-in boyfriend fits the bill and cops out when things get scary, and because riots and looting come across as realistically frightening.

2. Pro-miscegenation, from the standpoint that any publicity is good publicity (accounts for half-star deduction; they really need to start putting this stuff in the trailer as a service to moviegoers)

1. Pro-slut/anti-marriage (though some hope may be held out for unconventional, new age unions)

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