Film Review: "SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD"
Published: Saturday, June 30, 2012
Updated: Saturday, June 30, 2012 14:06
As a film reviewer, I feel like my most important job is to identify the audience for a movie. Sure, I may think “JUST GO FOR IT” is pretty terrible, but it’s on me to make sure Sandler obsessives are aware that they’re going to love it. Same goes for “HUMAN CENTIPEDE II” and gore-hounds. But for once, I’m stumped. “SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD” is far from a terrible movie: it has sporadic laughs, some great actors doing some decent work, and a fairly original take on the romantic-comedy genre. The problem is that I have no fucking clue who is suppose to enjoy this.
An asteroid is about to destroy Earth, “DEEP IMPACT” style, and everyone but our two main characters seem to be loving it. It’s a fair response, these two are stuck in pretty melancholic places – Steve Carrell’s wife leaves him the moment destruction is certain; preferring to spend the rest of her days with the man she’s been cheating on him with. Keira Knightley, outfitted with hypersomnia (a seemingly-pointless disease that makes it nearly impossible for her to wake up – no points for predicting that it will come up in the 3rd act,) is distraught that the immediate grounding of all flights will make it impossible for her to see her family overseas. There’s a lot of amazing comic possibilities that come with foreknowledge that existence is meaningless, but these two are far too morose to explore them.
And that brings us to what I will call the “DATE NIGHT Problem”, if you’ll allow me to reference that Tina Fey/Carrell vehicle (you’ve almost certainly already forgotten it.) That movie saw those two characters cycling through innumerable cameos who were all far more interesting than the stars were – Common as a member of the mafia, James Franco and Milo Kunis as drug-dealing white trash, Mark Walhberg as Mark Walhberg, etc. This one forces us to spend 5-minute sequence after 5-minute sequence with tons of characters who would be much better fits for a movie than Carrell and Knightley’s lopsided lovers.
What would you rather see: these two mopes coming around to the fact that they love each other, or Rob Corddry drinking his way through his last three weeks? How about an ecstasy fueled end-of-the-world orgy taking place in TGI Fridays? It even teases us with Patton Oswalt working on his bucket list, which includes but is certainly not limited to constant fornication (girls don’t even care if you’re related anymore, he surmises) and heroin (obviously.) These two never stood a chance at commanding the frame, much less our attention.
Carell plays what he played in “CRAZY STUPID LOVE”, the cuckolded sad-sack wallowing in his own depression, and it’s just not nearly as fun without Ryan Gosling on his side. To top that off, Knightley’s character is less a real human being than a character from a 30-second Hot Topic commercial (in addition to the oh-so-cute medical condition, she only listens to vinyl and will not shut up about what a hopeless romantic she is.) The contradictory genre efforts would be incredibly interesting if it weren’t so intolerable spending time with these people.
But they are, so director Lorene Scafaria’s experiment feels pointless rather than innovative. Who is this movie made for? It’s far too dark for those looking for a standard rom-com, and those intrigued by the “MELANCHOLIA”-esque dread will certainly be puzzled and turned-off by the achingly formulaic romance at the films heart. The idea sounds intriguing on paper, but it can’t sustain itself for feature length – at least not with this cast. “SEEKING A FRIEND” is proof: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.