By Hemanth Kissoon
“I want to do heroin to Radiohead.”
Writer-director Lorene Scafaria certainly has an ear for a title. Her previous feature screenplay was NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST. SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD is her directorial debut. Steve Carell’s wife leaves him when a radio DJ announces, “The final mission to save the Earth has failed.” We are talking an Extinction Level Event, to quote DEEP IMPACT. An asteroid is hurtling towards us. There is just 21 days until humankind will be wiped out. A rom-com-apocalypse. A refreshing spin on two subgenres. Though, not to get disaster flick junkies hopes up, there is not Roland Emmerich-style destruction. Instead of skyscrapers tumbling and peopling running away from fireballs, we are witness to a road trip. Steve Carell’s Dodge wants to connect with his ex-flame out of sheer desperation at being alone when the world ends. Keira Knightley’s Penny needs to get back to England to be with her family. In exchange for driving him to the supposed love of his life, Dodge will get Penny access to a plane now that commercial flights have ceased.
A simple, enticing concept. High-five Hollywood for going down a different path. However, to mangle football parlance, SEEKING A FRIEND is a film of two halves. The first half is all hilarious, zinging one-liners; coupled with a gentle satire on the end-of-days movie. Cameos are also packed in throughout. I won’t ruin the surprises. Then all of a sudden the tone shifts from cracking comedy into dismal sentimentality. A tired rom-com emerges like the alien chest-burster. Where did it come from? Why are we being subjected to it? I can’t provide answers I’m afraid. If you’ve seen any substandard mass entertainment that talks down to its audience, then you can predict the descent the story takes. By the end, I needed a sick bucket. What a crying shame.