A ginormous asteroid is going to hit the Earth in three weeks. Kiss your butt and the world goodbye. It’s been a fun ride. Or to quote Country Joe McDonald of the classic rock group Country Joe and the Fish, “There ain’t no time to wonder why, we’re all gonna die.”
Neither McDonald or his song are appear in the movie, but the quote is a fun fit for a fun movie. Rephrase. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is fun in some ways and serious in others.
Writer/director Lorene Scafaria’s open sequences and the first act are smart, funny, fun and damned serious; and all at once. She asks some great questions. The world is going to end in three weeks, what do you do with your last days? Some questions are answered through the characters. Others you must answer yourself.
The Earth has three weeks left when we pick up our main characters. Steve Carell is Dodge. His wife leaves him. Keira Knightley’s Penny breaks up with her boyfriend. Dodge who sells insurance continues to go to work. So do others. His boss says every day from now on is come to work casual day, and by the way we have some openings. Anyone want to be CFO?
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Some hearing the end of the world news party like there is no tomorrow. And there isn’t. Free sex, drugs and rock and roll rule. Some riot and kill others. Some kill themselves. No one skates by unscathed. Except maybe Dodge’s maid who doesn’t seem to notice the obvious.
Most of us like to think we’d take the high road when faced with the end of the world. Reality says a big percentage of us wouldn’t. Dodge and Penny are in the percentage that do. They seem to want something deeper. He decides to reconnect with the only woman he ever, really loved and she’s regretting not being closer to her family. They’re on the East coast. Dodge says he knows a pilot who can get her to England if she can get him to the ex-girlfriend.
Off they go. And off you go.
Acts two and three have bits just as funny as act one. They are just more spread out. The deeper you get into the film, the fewer the laughs. The more far-reaching the questions. The more profound the movie.
The bottom-line: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is packed with super clever dialogue, great bits from talking heads on TV news, outstanding performances from the two leads and the supporting cast, and a dead-on understanding of the humor of humanity in the most dire of experiences.
This is one of the year’s best. Scafaria fearlessly tackles life, love, death and dating at the end of the world. And please. Don’t wait until the end of the world to see it.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Writer/director: Lorene Scafaria
Stars: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Patton Oswalt, Rob Corddry, T.J. Miller, Connie Britton, Melanie Lynskey, Adam Brody, William Petersen, Martin Sheen
Rated R for violence, language, mature themes. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.