Would not it be nice… if the world does not end?
This question, frivolously worded and all, is one of the many at the heart of doomsday movies. While some apocalypse films see their characters doing all they can to survive impending disaster, other films take a more intimate approach by simply exploring what happens when everyone knows they are going to die in a few weeks. .
The latter is the premise of scammers director Lorene Scafaria’s first feature film in 2012, but with a funnier approach. (Right after the radio announces the end of the world, it airs “Would’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys.) Looking for a friend for the end of the world is a startling apocalyptic comedy about two lost souls seeking to spend their last days before mass extinction.
Starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, this charming end of the world movie is now available on HBO Max. Here’s why you should add it to your streaming queue.
Looking for a friend for the end of the world follows Dodge (Steve Carell), just as it was announced that the spacecraft, Deliverance, had failed in its mission to stop a massive asteroid named Matilda from crashing and pulverizing Earth. Because Deliverance has not, well, delivered, the inhabitants of Earth have only three weeks to live before Mathilde arrives.
Chaos ensues. Inhibitions go out the door. In the middle of it all is a depressed and lonely Dodge (Steve Carell). His wife abandoned him once the doomsday fate of mankind was announced. Between his heartache and impending doom, Dodge drifts like a lost soul until his tearful 28-year-old neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) shows up at his doorstep.
Penny has just broken up with her boyfriend and wants to spend her last days with her parents in England. After she wipes away her tears, Penny gives Dodge a bunch of mail that has been mistakenly delivered to her for years. In the bundle, Dodge finds a letter from his high school girlfriend, who writes that he was the love of his life.
Fate and circumstances lead Penny and Dodge on a road trip to find Dodge’s girlfriend in high school and help Penny find her way back to England before the world is over. During their journey, Dodge and Penny encounter a variety of bizarre characters and funny situations, including a sex orgy at a restaurant inspired by TGI Fridays.
Despite the excesses, writer and director Lorene Scafaria keeps the film focused on the flourishing relationship between Dodge and Penny. Their friendship eventually turns into something different, and the movie introduces a kind of will or will tension that is awkward at times.
Although Looking for a friend the narrative backdrop is an apocalypse, don’t confuse it with a disaster movie. This is a character-driven image that explores part of what human relationships might look like at the End of Days.
A painful sense of finality drifts throughout Looking for a friendeven during its hottest moments. Despite Penny’s wide-eyed optimism, there is no doubt that these characters will survive or that a miracle will save the world.
While some parts of Dodge and Penny’s journey may seem haphazard or disjointed, they end in an end that always leaves me breathless. It’s tender, vulnerable and absolutely hot with emotion.
That is, this movie has a perfect ending. Made Looking for a friend win the? It is debatable. Either way, it’s an apocalyptic journey worth experiencing.
Looking for a friend for the end of the world is now streaming on HBO Max.