What would you do if the world was ending in three weeks?
That's the lofty question Steve Carell, Keira Knightley and writer/director Lorene Scafaria look to tackle in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World." It follows the unlikely pair of Dodge (Carell) and Penny (Knightley) as they set off on a road trip to find his long-lost love and right her relationship with her estranged family.
It's harder than it sounds, considering almost the entire world's population has decided to give work the finger and spend their last days on Earth wallowing in selfish excess. The movie opens with Dodge's wife running away from their unhappy marriage (literally) and continues in spurts with all the off-the-wall things you'd imagine people would do if all social convention went out the window. There are some funny scenes – kids encouraged to chug hard liquor by adults, employees of a knock-off version of TGI Friday's hosting a drug-fueled orgy – in addition to run-of-the-mill anarchy like looting and rioting. It's chaotic – but then again, what apocalypse wouldn't be?
The audience is along for the ride as Dodge and Penny stumble through the ups and downs of end times, for better or for worse. Their journey plays out like a board game: roll the dice, advance a few spaces, hit a good/bad obstacle, repeat. The cast of extraneous characters piles up as they skip between one fortuitous circumstance after another. Even the pair themselves is a match made in convenient plot heaven – the depressed mid-life crisis man and the flighty hipster girl join forces, work through conflict and become an us-against-the-world unit.
If there's one redeeming aspect of "Seeking a Friend," it's Carell's performance. It's not unlike what he turned out for "Dan in Real Life," but his role as Dodge is more earnest. It's almost a shame that he gets tangled up in the bohemian weirdness that is Knightley's Penny, who is a cliched, attention-seeking wreck. She's static and uninteresting and appears all the more so matched up against Dodge's dynamic, sentimental character arc.
"Seeking a Friend" has a lot going on. The funny parts work; Carell's honest, emotional portrayal works. The movie as a whole, with its tenuous storyline and frequent tangents, does not. At least a handful of times I had to pull away from the action onscreen to regroup and remember what the actual objectives were. "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" is a nice try, but it tried to be too much of everything – and ended up being not enough of anything.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Renee Lorenz
Published Jan. 11, 2013
Classic gangsters loved a good embarrassment of riches. And for a movie like "Gangster Squad," showing off is fine. But, when the swanky style of the era meets the stylized swank of the movie's own excesses, things get out of hand.
Published Jan. 3, 2013
It feels like not a week goes by without someone posting something about how Facebook's invading everyone's privacy, spying on your browser history, etc., ad nauseum. (These posts are usually made on Facebook, by the way.) I understand the generic concern over the Orwellian slippery slope, but it doesn't take me too long to re-assess and arrive back at my old conclusion: Who cares?
Published Dec. 31, 2012
Although outsiders may not see Milwaukee as a hotbed for the performing arts, locals know there's plenty of talent to go around. And, there are numerous venues across the city that proudly show off area actors, dancers and musicians. But, despite the wide array of opportunities available, Katie Rhyme and Karen Zakrzewski still felt something important was missing.
Published Dec. 25, 2012
Merry Christmas, "Les Miz" lovers - I'm about to hate all over your musical.
Published Dec. 25, 2012
Well, it took director Quentin Tarantino 20 years, but he finally got his Western ... kinda. Although it's fair to say he's been preparing his entire career with his raucously bloody shoot-'em-ups, Tarantino's time warming up has been well spent if "Django Unchained" is the final result
Published Dec. 21, 2012
Unlike most middle-aged men, Judd Apatow can afford a whole garage of Camaros and Mustangs. So, it makes sense that his mid-life crisis would manifest not with a youthful car buy, but by splurging on the production of a new movie.
Published Dec. 19, 2012
They say time flies when you're having fun. I don't know who "they" are (probably those terrifyingly upbeat "glass half full" people), but they nailed it. My 2012 is a blur of exciting times and memorable moments, most of which my lawyers have advised me not to discuss in detail. There's still plenty to talk about, though, and I've shared the highlights below.
Published Dec. 18, 2012
Well, another year of movies is (almost) in the books. Full of many memorable ups and seared-in-my-brain-forever downs, here's my take on the best (and worst) of 2012.
Published Dec. 14, 2012
Eleven years after "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" introduced audiences to the majesty of director Peter Jackson's Middle-earth, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" makes a triumphant return to the mythical land with a new trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit."
Published Dec. 12, 2012
After being tasked with putting together an actual wish list, I'm legitimately afraid of the death glare I'll get if I hand over my ultra-practical, completely un-whimsical list of stuff I want. So, I'm posting it here.