The first feature from Lorence Scafaria, writer of Nick and Norah’s Infinite(ly boring) Playlist, is a modest effort worth a $6 matinee only if you’ve got nothing else to see. The film opens with Dodge (Steve Carell) and his wife discovering that the last efforts to save earth from an impending meteor have failed and that the world will end in three weeks. After a beginning where Dodge mopes around depressed at parties, goes on a blind date, and attempts suicide, he meets Penny (Keira Knightley) and the movie gets going.
Due to a mix-up in the mail, Penny reveals that she has received a letter from a girl Dodge once loved and had never gotten over. Coincidentally it turns out this woman still loves Dodge too, which prompts them to embark on an Odysseus-like journey to find Dodge’s long lost love. Along the way they run into a gaggle of characters ranging from ex-boyfriends, to drugged out waiters at T.G.I. Fridays. Oh yeah, and there is a dog put in for the sole purpose of telling us we should like the lead character (see Cowboys and Aliens, The Artist, I Am Legend, etc.).
The problems with the film do not come from the actors (aside from an embarrassingly unfunny cameo from Adam Scott as one of Penny’s ex boyfriends), nor even Scafaria’s directing efforts, but from the script’s awkward attempts to be hip. I didn’t feel the necessity of an entire monologue dictated by Kiera Knightley’s character to explain why she carries her record collection around with her the entire movie due to her undying love of vinyl (if she only had an iPod she could actually listen to her music rather than just carry it). While I have no issue with the high concept plot of the film, character actions that make no sense (such as why people are still showing up to work when the world is about to end) make it hard to get sucked into the film or care about any character other than Dodge.
All in all, the film falls closer to the Dan in Real Life side of things than Little Miss Sunshine.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opens today in Philly-area theaters.