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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World | Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Martin Sheen | Review

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  4_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World | Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Martin Sheen | Review

The title tells you what the film is about, but nothing of its execution – pardon the pun.  That you experience when Dodge (Steve Carell) and Penny (Keira Knightley) take the (literally) ultimate road trip together, each with a mission to accomplish on their final journey.

All this occurs because a large meteor is hurtling toward the planet and every attempt to stop it has failed.  News reports give its ETA and the earth’s subsequent demise a total of 21 days.  The population varies in their actions and reactions, calling into play hitmen, debauchery, drugs and alcohol, rioting, and religion.  Both inhibitions and consequences become insignificant.

Dodge and Penny take to the road on an adventure to reunite him with his high school sweetheart, Olivia.  Penny just wants to see her family in England once more.  A truck, car and plane fill the screen at different times.  So do shovels, vinyl records and breaking glass.

The mismatched pair’s discovery of each other along the way in the direst of circumstances is at once sweet, desperate, dangerous and surprising.  Both are loaded with emotional baggage and regrets, each relying on the other only as a means to get to where they truly want to be.  Think fate movie more than date movie.

Revelations ensue as precious time slips away.

Steve Carell, in the most thoughtful of all of his previous performances, leaves his usual shtick behind to embrace Dodge’s fears and foibles.  Keira Knightley channels an off-beat, irresponsible Penny into a bundle of optimism at war with an undercurrent of panic.  The two share a chemistry that surprises the audience and much as it does the characters themselves.

There is a realization that comes to both characters late in the film that seems instantaneous and unbelievable, until you realize that in this abbreviated universe, minutes become days, hours become months and days become whole years.

Humorous moments come from the general population’s numerous responses to impending oblivion, which range from hedonistic abandon to crime to religious re-acquaintance.

Making her directorial debut screenwriter Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist) keeps the dialogue witty and the action startling.  Films dealing with the end of times have always faced bias from a death-denying populace.  The subject matter is hard to look in the face with acceptance or even a genuine attempt at an open mind. 
Scafaria’s bittersweet vision is like the proverbial spoonful of sugar, making the whole, complicated mess of humanity’s existence and obliteration that much easier to swallow.  The depressing nature of the premise is punctuated by clever, frustrating and poignant moments of human behavior that illustrate two truths:  1. that we have not evolved so very far from the primates and 2.  that indeed we have.


Four


 
 
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