Have you ever watched a movie and thought that what you are seeing had the potential to be a masterpiece, but falls short thanks to some very strange choices? It’s a sad thing to have to say about any film, but it’s especially sad to say about Seeking a Friend For the End of the World, a movie that has moments of absolute perfection. There’s so much about this quirky comedy that I loved, but severe shifts in the tone stop it from being all that it could have been.
Seeking a Friend is about doomsday and two people who fall in love in the most unusual of circumstances. A meteor is set to wipe out all human life on Earth, and Dodge (Steve Carell) is regretting every moment of his existence. Teaming up with his new friend, Penny (Keira Knightley), the two head out on a road trip to find Dodge’s lost love, something he should have done a long time ago.
The end result is a story with a generous mix of comedy and drama, and a little bit of road movie tossed in just to keep the plot moving. Originally the humor has a perfect dark, satirical tone that is befitting of a film with an inevitable unhappy ending. Somewhere along the way the comedy falls flat, which works to the detriment of the serious moments
One scene featured Ryan Reynolds having a drug-fueled orgy at a roadside restaurant. Sounds a little bit crazy, huh? You have no idea. There are moments where the comedy is just too ridiculous for its own good, and the characters feel like little more than caricatures of human stereotypes.
This doesn’t compliment the drama at all, most of which works incredibly well. The romance between Penny and Dodge is subtle, born partially out of necessity. If you don’t like romantic comedies, don’t worry – Seeking doesn’t exactly follow the typical formula.
You’d think that a movie about the end of the world would put everything on an epic scale, but Dodge’s quest to find the one who got away feels very grounded. We get the vibe early on that this may not be exactly what he wants. He’s a man used to being disappointed, having been rejected by women his whole life. All of his relationships have failed him, and how he’s looking for a little companionship before the end.
Yes, a character who has trouble with love isn’t new in the rom-com genre; however, Dodge’s life story involving a father who left him and a mother who died adds a level of depth that compliments the character nicely. How painful is the death of your mother when the whole world is about to end? How mad can you be at the father who left you when you only get one more chance to say goodbye? Dodge and Penny are emotionally complex people, and it’s enjoyable to learn about their lives.
By the end of the film I loved these characters. Their fears, weaknesses, and flaws are a wonderful expression of humanity – something that is about to vanish very soon. In a sense this story is a celebration of human life; the worst parts of it included. When it sticks to this foundation and doesn’t go off on some crazy tangent, Seeking a Friend is a wonderful movie.
The ending shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s beautiful and touching nonetheless. The final act is strong enough to save a film that almost fell apart completely. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World isn’t the masterpiece it could have been, but It’s certainly very moving. In the end, I guess that’s really all I could have asked for.