Review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Scafaria, 2012)

Still from the movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Who doesn’t like a good apocalypse movie? There’s always something fun about why the world is falling apart and how society deals with the chaos. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, however, stays away from all the dark stuff and generally colors within the lines. It’s one in a long line of recent films that capitalizes on a trendy topic (e.g., vampires, zombies, apocalypse, superheroes, time travel) but isn’t actually about that topic.

Perhaps as a consequence, it was shatteringly vapid. It was so bad that I had a distaste for movie-watching for a few days afterwards; it reminded me how bad it can feel when you spend hours watching something that ends up being a horrible waste of time, a feeling usually reserved for reality television. I’m not sure why I stuck with it. Inertia? I kept thinking it was going to get better, but it only got worse.

Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Martin Sheen, Connie Britton–I like all of them, so why wouldn’t I like a movie where they all appear? Steve Carell: resoundingly unfunny, the most serious character in the movie. Keira Knightley: twitchy and blinky and the most annoying and insipid dream girl ever (stereotype of the record-loving, free-spirited bohemian romantic, down to the charmingly shapeless dresses and slouchy sweaters). Adam Brody: dreamboat rockstar boyfriend turned whiny coward. Martin Sheen: I guess I won’t go there because I don’t want to spoil the ending, even if I hope against all hope you won’t waste your time on this movie. Connie Britton: she was all right, actually.

Was it the fault of director Lorene Scafaria? But her Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist had been all right (carried maybe by Michael Cera). There’s nothing to explain this bland little film.

If it had only been funny I wouldn’t have minded the rest of it so much, but, aside from a few moments (I can think of two), I don’t think I cracked a smile, not even inside. And I’m known to be fairly generous with the laughs. Instead Scafaria alternated weak attempts at humor with pretty much every cliched romantic expectation a writer could possibly think of, creating a movie so blah I couldn’t wait for the apocalypse to come.

Cute title, though.