We now live in the post-RomCom era where the only ways to tell a boy-meets-girl story are to infuse it with quirks. The most successful romance to come out of this period is (500) Days of Summer and that’s specifically about how the romance did NOT work out.
Enter Seeking a Friend for the End of the World where the quirk is boy-meets-girl during the apocalypse. An asteroid is heading towards earth, and the token mission to blow it up has failed. Earth is told that it’s curtains in three weeks time. Dodge (Steve Carell) has this news presented to him, then his wife runs away into the arms of the man she actually loves. But he soon meets his neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley) who’s just broken up with her layabout boyfriend, and the two set off on a road trip of sorts – Penny to try and find someone to fly her to England, Dodge to track down the love of his life who wrote a letter to him some months prior – only it turned up in Penny’s mailboxand she never thought to forward it on.
What follows is a series of vignettes that involve our protagonists as the world reacts in different ways to finding out that the end is very fucking nigh. The film is a blend of comedy and drama that I’m not quite comfortable calling a “dramedy” – it’d be more accurate to call it a comedy with periodic mood-whiplash. And while it’s not insufferable, it is definitely aiming for “quirky” when it would be better suited as an outright black comedy with a golden heart.
Now, of course, Dodge and Penny end up getting together, which is fine by convention but not by the movie. In light of the end of the world, the decisions made by the characters are entirely reliant on an enormously significant love between the two, which just doesn’t come across. Carell and Knightley are entirely charming in their roles, and they have great chemistry together, but as friends, and it would have been nice if the film didn’t need to be post-RomCom and just stuck to a story about two friends. Or alternatively, some of the vignettes could’ve been trimmed from the narrative and a bit more time spent on the relationship.
However, it’s a very nice little movie despite the odd chemistry, and it’s nice to see Keira Knightley sink her teeth into something a little lighter in the way of movie roles. I wouldn’t necessarily say you need to rush out and see this right away, but you could certainly do worse for yourself when it comes to picking something new to watch.
Plus, Penny’s boyfriend is played by Adam Brody, and the film implies that he’s killed by an angry mob, so that’s something to endear you to it too.