October 18, 2012 -- This is one of those movies that asks a big question, namely, what would you do if you only had a month left to live? It is sort of like those other similar questions, like would you spend time with this person if he or she was the last person in the world? The last movie to ask these sorts of questions was “Melancholia.” While Melancholia was silly and obnoxious, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is funny, but also profound and tragic.
The movie starts off with Dodge (Steve Carell of “Dan in Real Life”) and his wife, Linda (played by Steve Carell's real life wife Nancy Carell) listening to a news report on the car radio which says that a team of astronauts has failed in its mission to stop a giant meteor from hitting the earth. The world will end in a few weeks time. At the news, Dodge's wife opens the car door and runs away as fast as she can, and he never sees her again. He finds out later, she has been cheating on him.
Since Dodge is estranged from his family, he has no purpose in life. He spends his time alone, with only a weekly visit from his housekeeper, who insists on cleaning, even though this is increasingly a meaningless task. After a time though, he meets a neighbor, Penny (Keira Knightley of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End”) in his apartment building who is distraught over not being able to get back to her family. Dodge is attracted to Penny and finally offers her a deal. If she will drive him to meet an old friend, he will arrange for a pilot and plane to fly her back to her family in England.
The two embark on a road trip where they meet various odd people reacting in all sorts of ways to the news of the impending end of the world. One of the stranger incidents in the trip is a Friendley's Restaurant where a wild hedonistic celebration is under way. Another strange encounter involves a man who has hired an assassin to kill himself. A funny episode has a local cop determined to make his traffic ticket quota before the world ends. Another group of people plan to survive the meteor strike in an underground bunker with walls made of titanium.
While most of the story is scientifically possible, there is one major error in the movie of astronomical proportions. Shortly before the giant meteor is about to hit the earth, there is an announcement that the meteor will hit the earth a week earlier than expected. This is virtually impossible because if the meteor crossed the earth's orbit that much sooner, the meteor would miss the earth by millions of miles. That is because the earth is a moving target, not a stationary one. The earth moves around the sun at about 67,000 miles per hour. So a comet calculated to strike the earth at one point in its orbit would miss the earth by more than 11 million miles if it arrived at earth orbit a week too soon.
Dodge and Penny are united by a strange coincidence involving some old mail that was delivered to the wrong person. In the end, the two are reunited again by something stronger than anything, except maybe the end of the world, love. In the end, the two must finally arrive at a realization which has been building for the entire film, that is, they must let go of the past and embrace the present. Family ties and old lost loves are also explored in this bittersweet comedy. This film rates a C+.
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