Entertainment Weekly says about Seeking a Friend for the End of the World that it “can be mistaken for a soft, sentimental story about a lonely middle-aged sad sack whose encounter with a quirky younger woman inspires him to make amends with his past and face the future with new serenity,” and I have to agree because that’s about what I took it to be. Except that it’s not sentimental and I can’t see that Steve Carell changes much from his initial numbness or faces his past in a new way. And, of course, there is no future for him to face, because the asteroid is going to hit the earth very soon.
Credit Seeking a Friend with avoiding almost all the clichés I regarded as inevitable; it does at the cost of practically everything else. It starts with some neat satire on broadcasting and business operations, and pops off at broadcast news pretty consistently, and it is refreshingly free of mush about families, but unless it is making a point about people’s not responding to an emergency at all, perhaps a comment on our refusal to pay attention to global warming, I can’t see it making much of a point. There are a couple touches of hedonism and maybe one about people building bomb shelters and buying ammunition against cosmic destruction, but by getting Carell and Keira Knightley out of town and onto the road, it turns into pretty much just another strangers-on-a-journey story like The Way, which was a good deal better. I would have expected some kind of religious revival, because there is no other source of hope. But I do have to admit that Seeking a Friend for the End of the World set me to thinking what I would do if the world was going to end in three weeks, and I’m still thinking about it.