Best known for her work on ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ Scafaria brings audiences something mainstream pleasant and accessibly quirky but not brilliant. “The final mission to save mankind has failed, the 70mile wide asteroid known as Mathilda is set to collide with Earth in exactly three weeks time and we’ll be bringing you our countdown to the end of days along with all your classic rock favourites”…
Whilst receiving this news over the radio with his wife Dodge (Steve Carrell) is abandoned as she slips out the car in complete comical silence to leave him to face the end of the world alone. He attempts to keep calm, continuing to go to what’s left of his job as an insurance sales man. His friends fair better by handling the news as a free apocalypse hall pass to do whatever they please. He has no idea what he has ever really wanted out of life and it would seem it’s too late as all life on earth is about to end. Enter Kiera Knightley as ‘Penny’ who is stuck in the U.S and depressed she missed her last opportunity to see her family back in England. The pair decide to embark on a road trip to end all road trips agreeing not to steal, rape, rob or murder each other in pursuit of his favourite old flame for one last hurrah.
The idea of an apocalyptic romantic comedy is a particularly interesting premise but pretty risky for a screenplay and concise narrative. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, the world ends. The in-between would have to be exceptionally funny and heartwarming for it to work and for audiences to not poke plot holes. That aside for now we have been here before…many, many, many times. Lifeless boring frustrated male between 25-45 meets young charming, kooky upstart who breathes life into him. 500 days of summer, Along came polly, The Garden State, Elizabethentown, most films featuring Julia Roberts, Jennifer Anniston and Meg Ryan. Even Nora Ephron (may she rest in peace) could not master enough screenplay magic to persuade viewers to want to see Kiera Knightley and Steve Carrol ‘make out’ or ‘hook up’. Kiera Knightley isn’t awful as whimsical bohemian ‘Penny’ and while the chemistry between her and Steve Carrol’s ‘Dodge’ is close it’s not the natural passion we route for as viewers but we wish them best of luck as besties.
What nearly saves the film is the humorous bizarre actions of those around the two central characters. Upper middle class dinner parties turn into orgies as disease, adultery and pregnancy doesn’t matter if the world is ending in two weeks. Although the obvious dark undercurrent is completely ignored. Call me grim but surely angry women would exact revenge on previous male abusers without repercussions and masses of people depart this plane on sweet guilt free painless heroin overdoses. Rob Corddry, Adam Brody and Patton Oswaklt bring some much needed salt to the film and as the film progresses towards the end I wished they had more screen time to round out the film.
Von Von Lamunu