In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Procura-se Um Amigo Para o Fim do Mundo) it’s the end of the world as we know it, and Dodge (Steve Carell) does not feel fine. An asteroid’s headed straight for Earth; the last-ditch defense strategy has failed; and, to add personal insult to extinction-level injury, our hero’s wife has left him, determined to not spend another minute of her suddenly-abbreviated life with a man she doesn’t love.
Laughing yet? If there’s any actor who can make this bummer doomsday scenario funny – and not, you know, apocalyptically depressing – it’s the former Mr. Michael Scott. Proving again that nobody does middle-aged comic desperation better, Carell plays his end-of-days dread as an especially crushing case of the breakup blues. Think: Crazy, Stupid, Armageddon.
Most of the jokes here, penned by Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist writer Lorene Scafaria, revolve around the way the rest of the population responds to its imminent expiration date. (Some, like a cameoing Patton Oswalt, treat it as a hedonistic hall pass; others go about their daily lives with a dazed sense of purpose.) But once Dodge meets the manic pixie dream Brit who lives next door (Keira Knightley), and the two embark on a carpe-diem, run-down-the-clock road trip, the film shifts gears.
Suddenly we’re watching a surprisingly thoughtful dramedy about two lonely people looking back on their lives, assessing what they’d do differently and what they’ll miss the most. None of this will shatter your world; that said, if a star-powered American romcom can resemble a humanistic corrective to Melancholia, there’s hope for the species yet.