Seeking Friend for the End of the World

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seeking friend forI remember kind of liking Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but thought they tried too hard to be hip with all the music references. The writer of that screenplay – Lorene Scafaria – wrote this, making her directorial debut. This time one of the two protagonists loves collecting vinyl records, which is the go-to hobby for people that are hip. And like her, I’d be furious if my lover left me and took my Pet Sounds album. I’m just not sure why she carries around albums when we’re told early on that the world will end in three weeks. The newscast even informs us that the last rocket that went up to try and destroy the asteroid failed. So I hardly think that people running around town would be carrying around their album collections instead of a small ipad with all their songs.

It wasn’t just the people running around in chaos. The script was all over the place, too. It wanted to be a buddy, road trip picture. It wanted to be a serious film. It tried being a dark comedy, a goofy comedy, a rom com…

I enjoyed the couple of lost souls trying to reach that last destination, even if it did mean we have to see Steve Carell play the sad sack yet again. He has good chemistry with Keira Knightley (who wouldn’t?).

I much prefer two brilliant comedians – Patton Oswalt and Rod Corddry – living their last days sleeping with various women and letting their kids get drunk. Corddry also let’s them play with fireworks, and may possibly shoot some heroin later in the evening.

I swear, you put either of those two in a comedy you’re doing and it’s going to be twice as funny, no matter how small their parts are.

There are moments in this film that are so well written and keenly observant, that it frustrates me so much of the film is a mess.

There was no way to give a powerful and emotional climax when the silly gags leading up to it don’t always work. It made me think of the dark comedy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – which worked in every aspect.

The first half of this movie was a lot of fun, and straddled the line of comedy and tragedy quite well. When Adam Brody, the musician Knightley is dating, leaves – the film slowly starts to unravel. I’m guessing most audiences won’t feel that way, though. For example, a newscaster was being very serious a few days before the asteroid was supposed to hit Earth. He explains, in that deep newscaster voice, that they’ll be going off the air and he thanked everyone for watching. He talks about spending the final days with his wife and two kids. He ends by saying “And remember, Sunday is daylight savings, so don’t forget to move your clocks back an hour.”

As unbelievable as that line is, at least it’s kind of funny. There was nothing remotely funny about a meeting in an office. It was like a bad skit on Saturday Night Live.

The entire theatre of critics I was watching this with laughed. And it’s a cute line, but it just didn’t fit. I mean…we had just seen a person fall into Carell’s windshield after jumping off a building.

On the road trip portion of the movie, a trip to a T.G.I.Fridays type of restaurant was cute, but could’ve been hysterical; especially with comedian/actor T.J. Miller at the helm. There’s a trip to Knightley’s ex-boyfriends compound. He’s preparing well for the apocalypse – with guns, Smart cars, and potato chips. It was amusing, and I like that it didn’t go down the usual cliché paths. Unfortunately, the premise for this film feels like something that has been done a few too many times.

Two actors I enjoy popped up in smaller roles. The scenes with Martin Sheen worked. The ones with William Peterson didn’t (I can’t explain them, as they’d be big spoilers).

The cameo from an Office cast member is funny.

When Knightley finally gets to play some of the records she’s been toting around – we see a Leonard Cohen and Cars debut album (the soundtrack also gives us some good John Cale and Wilco). I thought about other movies that were love letters to vinyl collectors: High Fidelity and Singles come to mind. Both are better comedies.

Oh, and for those of you that go to see this – explain to me what was going on with the maid. I’m not sure I understand why she kept coming over to clean his house. What in the world were they trying to tell us with all that character?

This movie gets 2 ½ stars out of 5.

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