Imagine “Armageddon” without director Michael Bay's slick bombast and without Bruce Willis' macho wildcatter blasting off on a preposterous mission to save planet Earth from a hurtling asteroid. “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a modest little apocalyptic romance in which two lost souls find each other just as the celestial time clock runs out. It's an end-of-the-world saga without big-bang pyrotechnics and without a trumped-up happy ending. As summer movies go, it's the anti-“Armageddon.”
It's also the first directing effort of the interesting Lorene Scafaria, a New Jersey playwright, singer-songwriter and screenwriter (“Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist”) with a very dark, but ultimately hopeful sense of humor.
Featuring the unlikely pairing of Hollywood's reigning Everyman Steve Carell (fast emerging as his generation's Jack Lemmon) and British costume-drama diva Keira Knightley, Scafaria's smart scenario opens with stark news reports that a 70-mile-wide asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, and scientists have concluded that nothing can save us from the coming cataclysm.
With 21 days till impact, human reaction occurs across a radical spectrum: Some riot, loot and rampage; some party hearty and set off on hedonistic binges of sex, drugs and booze; some blindly hew to comforting routines, going to work as usual, mowing the lawn, walking the dog; some hunker down in bunkers fortified with firearms and stocks of junk food, scheming to emerge from the ruins and repopulate the world.
Our two mismatched pilgrims of the apocalypse — Dodge (Carell), a rule-abiding, nice-guy insurance salesman, and Penny (Knightley), a dizzy, free-spirited young gal at loose ends about her future — are neighbors who pass in the night without giving each other a second thought.
But dire events conspire to bring them together rather cutely, and soon enough they're fleeing a brick-throwing mob (leaving Penny's jerky, self-absorbed rock guitarist boyfriend, played by Adam Brody, to fend for himself) and are off on a road trip to fulfill certain end-of-life obligations.
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‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World'
Starring: Keira Knightley, Steve Carell, Adam Brody, Nancy Carell. (Language, including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence)