Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – an EXTREMELY underappreciated gem of a movie that no one saw – directed by Lorene Scafaria

This movie should have made a hundred million dollars. The sheer travesty, the injustice of the fact that it was only in theaters for about two weeks TOPS and therefore no one at all got to see it really pisses me off. I’ve already ranted about movies that make it and get over hyped in Hollywood enough in my last review, so I’ll try to keep my whining to a minimum this time, but, MAN, just, this movie should still be being talked about, and should be all over your TV set being advertised. You should be sick of hearing about it already, and should have said “OK! F*** I’ll go rent it, LEAVE ME ALONE TV GODS!” Instead we get more 3D movies like Silent Hill (which I’m pretty sure I”d like, but I still doubt its a great movie) and Paranormal Activity 5….THOUSAND crammed down our pieholes and this movie gets left behind – I couldn’t even find this movie to buy at a couple places for Gods sake!

But enough ranting – I think its obvious WHY I’m ranting, and it’s because, this movie is incredible. Here is a movie that set out to do something different, a different take on the end of the world genre of films (for one, there aren’t any zombies – SURPRISE! right?!), and yet, a story that we are all pretty familiar with and can relate to. It takes a special talent to bring a subject as dark as the end of the world and somehow blend it together with a nice little romance that doesn’t feel trite or forced. And Lorene Scafaria, aside from having a pretty cool name, has done just that. Apparently, and sadly, she wrote the god awful Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist back in 2008, a movie so bad that I don’t even need to link it because you are better off not knowing it exists, but she has learned from quite a few of the mistakes she made in that movie – not quite all of them, because this movie DOES have it’s cliches and sometimes it falls back on some of the same crap we see in nearly any romantic comedy, BUT, you probably won’t care simply because of the strength of the actors – and while this movie is most assuredly a post apocalyptic one, sometimes you almost forget that because the main focus is on two characters, a boy and a girl, I guess – though the age difference is somewhat jarring, I’ll admit.

The uh…”boy” I guess, is played by the pretty much always great Steve Carell. You usually can’t go wrong casting this guy in your movie – yes, he’s well known for the “funny man” due to his years on The Office, but he is also more than capable of playing the depressed loner (Little Miss Sunshine) or the goofy guy you probably would want to be friends with that still has marriage and love issues just like the rest of us, no matter how fun he appears on the outside (Crazy Stupid Love). He’s even made mostly bad movies quite a bit better than they probably had any right to be just by being in them (Dinner For Schmucks, Date Night, Dan in Real Life) – so basically the argument is, guy is a special talent. Chances are I’ll probably check a movie out if he’s in it. And this movie has him playing a bit of a cross between the sad, suicidal lonely man from Little Miss Sunshine and the goofy, loveable guy from Crazy Stupid Love/The Office. I wouldn’t say this role is anything like a big stretch for him, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fantastic. He plays the depressed man whose wife has just left him three weeks before the world is set to be hit by a giant freaking meteor incredibly well, you might not feel for him at first, but by the end rest assured you will.

Then there is his equal, the also pretty much always great Keira Knightley who we haven’t seen in too many movies lately. Usually known for making those period piece dealies, she steps out of her comfort zone a bit for this one, but absolutely knocks it out of the park here. My friend even made a comment while she was on the phone in the movie, really just talking to no one on the other end if you actually take yourself out of the movie for a minute and think about how they work, and you buy everything she says. Her tears are real when you see her cry in this movie (and you will, a few times – I mentioned that this IS about the end of the world, right?!), and you will feel for her. I also want to go on record that I think she has the best laugh in the movies today…something infectious about it that has you smiling too. I’ve thought this all the way back since Love Actually (another wonderful movie, by the way), actually, hey cool I just used the word actually twice in a row and it makes sense – Masters Degree on full display tonight people! But anyways – she is spot on in this role, and sure, her quirkiness and overall optimism about life is maybe a little TOO much of a perfect antithesis to Carell’s character, but hey c’mon, we ARE watching a movie after all, you gotta suspend your disbelief a bit to enjoy what we are seeing – and you gladly and willingly will, especially at about the halfway point of this movie, which sees them both in the slammer for a bit (you know, jail, to you people who don’t readily embrace terms said by old men in the 40’s for a couple of years – the clink, the can, the hole, what have you) – don’t worry I’m not spoiling anything for you, just know that this is a special scene and one that showcases the acting chops of BOTH of these great actors.

There are also some excellent cameos at the beginning of the movie as well, which features an absolutely insane and hey, fitting, end of the world party held by some of Carell’s friends – Rob Corddry, a master scene stealer (well…’cept for in Hot Tub Time Machine…), Patton Oswalt in what is arguably the funniest two minutes of the movie, Martin Sheen, and a few other interesting cameos show up here – but the movie rather quickly switches its focus to tell the story of these two. And these two fit so well, like I said almost TOO well – but their journey is a great one. Carell’s character receives a letter from his high school sweetheart, the one who got away, and since his wife has left him, he decides why the hell not, let’s road trip it up and Penny (Knightley) ends up with him because after she essentially barges into his apartment a ball of emotion (and shes pretty), he has no choice but to be her friend and wants to save her when the true rioting begins about two weeks before the world is set to end. Yes, the letter is a maguffin. No, we don’t care. The journey is one that has the two of them question their lives, of course – what the hell else are you going to do when you know the world is ending? It will also make YOU think – about what you would want to do if you knew it was all over in two weeks, who you would want to spend it with, what exactly you would do. Of course it can be argued that any movie about the end of the world does that, sure. But this one is a different fig entirely, and really just a shining example of how yes, we see a lot of post apocalyptic things these days, its a common, generalized fear anymore and movies, video games, books, they all take advantage of that. But this one does it entirely different than the others before it have.

I don’t think I need to tell you that I loved this movie, I think I’ve established that. It has a lot, I mean MANY subtle little nuances about it too, some truly nice touches, so many I noticed that I’m absolutely positive I didn’t see them all in one viewing – and might not in five viewings. Some of these nuances are very touching – one in particular made me tear up almost right away. It’s brilliant stuff. It also has a lot of wonderful lines – usually delivered by Carell, who I think I could just relate to more because I myself am a huge cynic just as he is in this, but that doesn’t mean Knightley doesn’t shine in some of her scenes, especially the ones where the director focuses on her face (she has such an expressive face, it’s a big part of her charm as an actress), she absolutely does. This is a wonderful movie. As might be realized by now, an ending can make or break a movie for me, I was texting with a friend and said “this could very well be the best movie of the year depending on what they do with the ending” and I’m not ruining anything in saying that it ends like it should, this IS about the end of the world after all people. Not everything is happy, nor should it be. The ending is near perfect, and the only thing keeping this from me saying that it IS the best movie of 2012 so far for me is some of those damnable cliches that kept popping up in my head after I watched it, little jarring things that took me out of the movie. But that isn’t to say that this movie isn’t incredible, it absolutely is. Go BUY this movie, do not rent it, don’t spend $56 to rent it for two hours on demand, go BUY it. It didn’t make the money nor get the recognition it deserved, not by a long shot. Support this writer/director so that we can see what she will dream up for us next, though uh, spoiler alert, I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to be Seeking a Friend for the End of the World 2.

 

The verdict –

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