Yes, for all of the likeable work that Steve Carell and Keira Knightley put into their lead performances there’s still a remarkable lack of chemistry between them. Yes, the end of the world setting is merely a means to shove them together in a romance that would otherwise never occur, got it. And yes, you’re right, that home stretch is really rough going and vaguely disappointing, but you know what? I still enjoyed myself, improbable as it may seem.
We open with the knowledge that in three weeks an asteroid will come crashing into the earth, and that’s all she wrote folks. The foreknowledge of the end of the world somehow seems worse than if it had happened by surprise. You know that there’s a finite amount of time before it all comes to a terrible end, and how does one reaction to that?
Well, some people riot in the streets, others engage in orgies, drugs, and a general never-ending bacchanal that would make Dionysus throw his hands up and say, “Sorry guys, I gotta go home now.” I mean, just listen to Patton Oswalt’s filthy monologue about how he’s given over to vices in these final days. It straddles a fine line between hilarious and off-putting. In-between all of this chaos and freewheeling loving is Dodge (Carell), a recently abandoned insurance salesman who’s found himself stuck with caring for a dog, and his neighbor, Penny (Knightley).
You can’t call it a “meet cute,” but all the same, they’re forced together on a road trip that leads them to colorful characters, oddball situations, and a slowly dawning realization of love. There’s nothing that Seeking a Friend for the End of the World does that could count as a surprise, and I’m slightly mystified by how much I enjoyed. I’m going to chalk it up to spending time with two pleasant actors and some fun quick appearances by a uniformly strong stable of comedians (Oswalt, Rob Huebel), character actors (Connie Britton, William Petersen, Melanie Lynskey), and movie stars (Martin Sheen).
Sometimes all you want is something pleasant, and these two characters are good enough. They couldn’t possibly usher in a satisfactory conclusion, and perhaps that wasn’t one to be found anywhere in this material. Stating that the end of the world is imminent leaves you painted into a corner. When the final credits start to roll you best have brought about the apocalypse.