Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World covers almost exactly the same ground as Don McKellar’s beautiful 1998 gem Last Night: a middle-aged loner whiles away the last days before a calamity (unspecified in McKellar’s film; an unstoppable asteroid here) wipes out the planet. But where Last Night was a leisurely ensemble piece that almost incidentally built to a powerful conclusion about our varying outlooks on mortality, Scafaria’s directorial debut (she wrote the screenplay for Peter Sollett’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) is more purposeful, and more conventional: Dodge (Steve Carell) gets dumped just weeks before the apocalypse, whereupon he falls in with a prototypical manic pixie dream girl played by Keira Knightley, and the two go on a road trip to help him reconnect with a woman he loved and lost.

The journey is familiar. Dodge begins the film tossing off “I regret my entire life” as a casual salutation, and spends the rest of it finding meaning and purpose in his short time with Knightley’s hyperactive love interest. Their travels are punctuated by variably amusing comic interludes, often featuring short cameos by recognizable stars (Adam Brody, Patton Oswalt, Derek Luke, Rob Corddry, Melanie Lynskey, Connie Britton). But the vignettes don’t add up to much, and the film’s turn to pathos in the last act isn’t quite convincing — particularly since there turns out to be so little to Knightley’s character beyond springy adorableness. Seeking a Friend at the End of the World ends on precisely the grace note you’d expect, and like the rest of the film it’s sweet and droll and kind of inert.

-- Eugene Novikov

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Screening Log

Snitch

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Score: C

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Score: C+

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Score: B-

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Score: B+

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Jonathan Levine, 2013

Score: C

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Richard LaGravanese, 2013

Score: B-

The Window

Ted Tetzlaff, 1949

Score: B+

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Score: B

Street of Chance

Jack Hively, 1942

Score: C

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Im Sang-Soo, 2013

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