Friend for End of the World Featured

Monday, 05 November 2012 15:59
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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World on Blu-ray and DVDAre you sitting comfortably?  It’s only the end of the world again. “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is the cinematic directorial debut of screenwriter Lorene Scafaria. She achieved recognition for adapting the book “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist” for the big screen (kudos to you if you’ve heard of that one – very popular with the under-18s according to IMDB). She has a quartet of films stuck in development hell, one of them an adaption of the musical “Bye Bye Birdie”, and a few acting roles while waiting for her writing break.   

Scafaria takes us to a near-future where an asteroid is going to obliterate life on Earth. Indeed, what would you do and how would you feel when humanity’s end is near? It’s going to be a time for rejoicing amongst ‘preppers’ everywhere - the ones who have invested in Titanium-lined nuclear bunkers, but here they are portrayed as a midpoint between ‘sad’ and ‘mean’. This is a movie about the futility of preparation, the demolition of hope. Supposedly its aim is to make your heart soar in seeing two people find solace in each other.  All I wanted to do was slap them for wallowing in being victims.

So, let’s review the size of the problem: a 70-mile-wide asteroid, en route for a collision with Earth. The most recent attempt to avert disaster has failed. Do we celebrate man’s ingenuity over the centuries, and look for a way to save as many people as possible.  Well, no. In the face of annihilation, all people can do is think of themselves rather than the big picture.

Meanwhile, insurance salesman Dodge (Steve Carell of The Office USA) can only focus on the break-up of his marriage. When the news of the estimated 21 days to impact is revealed, it prompts his wife (played by Steve’s real life wife Nancy Carell) to leave him, on the spot. He’s always been rule-bound, even continuing to go into work every day, despite almost everyone else quitting.  His housemaid equally has the same devotion to duty over the practicalities of living the last days of your life to the max.

Dodge catches a glimpse of his neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley), at the tail-end of another bust-up with her live-in boyfriend. She’s a throwback to flower power, outgoing, and completely irresponsible. Seemingly everything tells you Dodge and Penny won’t get on.

While Dodge has lived life coasting along the inside lane, Penny has been speeding through the world, never saying ‘no’, and to hell with the consequences. What unites them is an inability to come to terms with the imminent disaster ahead.

For others, life becomes one big party, where the only rule is that there are no rules. Dodge declines joining his friends in their increasingly reckless behaviour, while Penny clings on to her relationship with the self-absorbed musician - the only thing the couple shares being the air within their apartment.

Demonstrating the heartless side of Penny, she delivers Dodge weeks’-worth of post, which she has kept for no good reason. It’s mostly irrelevant stuff, but also includes a letter from his ‘first love’, high-school sweetheart Olivia. It’s the letter he has been hoping for all his life, noting they should be together. Now, the less-than-timely delivery means it is probably too late to set matters straight.

When a riot breaks out around their apartment building, Dodge realises that he must seek Olivia out before it’s too late. Penny makes the decision that she must spend her last days with her family in England. Seizing the moment, Dodge promises to help Penny reach her family if she will provide transport for the two of them in her automobile. She agrees, and they escape.

On the road together, these unlikely travelling companions’ respective personal journeys accelerate, and their outlooks on life brighten. William Petersen (Gil Grissom in CSI) plays a Trucker who gives them a lift on their way, before his past catches up with him, whilst a cameo by Martin Sheen, as Frank, sees him almost steal the entire picture.

However, if scene-stealing can be trumped, it has to come from the scruffy little dog ‘Sorry’, played by a pooch called Aleister. Left by persons-unknown on Dodge’s chest, as he crashes out in the middle of a park following a nocturnal booze cruise, the dog is identified only by a small scrap of paper that says “Sorry”. Probably a statement of regret rather than the dog’s actual name, it becomes a good handle for the pup.

DVD and Blu-ray Extras for this release include the following:

  • Trailer
  • Out-takes
  • A Look Inside “Seeking A Friend For The End of The World”
  • “Music For The End Of The World: What's On Your Playlist?”

Whilst I can see what this movie was trying to do, the subject matter really doesn’t lend itself to romantic comedy.  I am also concerned about the futility-of-preparation riff it maintains throughout its duration. Not all disasters of this kind will lead to total obliteration of the world population, and whatever happened to “where there’s life, there’s hope”? Are we really talking about a form of predictive programming here?

I admit I always have a problem with movies/series where the leading roles are totally unsympathetic, as is the case with these creations of Carell and Knightley. If you don’t care if they survive, then you’re not concerned what happens to them in the interim. It all points to a script flaw, where such a problem has not been thought through. I would appear not to be in the minority on this, when glancing at the Box Office takings for the film. The outlay of around $10 million in budget wasn’t met by its American domestic cinematic takings of around $6.5 million. Still, it’s not as if there was ever going to be a sequel!

“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is out now from Studio Canal.  It has a running time of 101 minutes for the Blu-ray (98 minutes for the DVD) approx., a ‘15’ certificate, and a RRP of £22.99 (Blu-ray) and £19.99 (DVD), or get either for less at


Last modified on Monday, 05 November 2012 16:05

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