★ ★ ★ 1/2
Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley William Peterson, Melanie Lynskey, Adam Brody, Tonita Castro, Derek Luke, Connie Britton and Patton Oswalt. Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria.
If you're seeking the kind of comedy that leaves you with a few dry laughs and the distinct feeling that something bad is about to happen, this is your flick. Equally so, if you happen to be looking for a movie with an only half recycled plot that leaves you with something to think about, this is also what you're looking for.
Written by the same screenwriter as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, one could argue that Lorene Scafaria likes setting a newly-met pair up to go in search of something together, only to find what they were looking for was right in front of them all along. And while this is certainly a fairly tired setup, when the backdrop is the end of the world, it does seem to bring a few questions to a head. Would you continue to go to work? Would you keep paying your bills? Would you allow a complete stranger to smoke a joint in your living room then sleep on your couch for 16 hours?
These are all questions Dodge (Carell) must contemplate once he and his wife hear that the mission to save the planet from an impending asteroid has failed and the world will end in 21 days. When his wife subsequently leaves him, he's left with nothing but a boring job and friends so dizzied by the end of the world, they've started doing heroin, having orgies and feeding their children hard liquor.
Then enters Penny (Knightley), the free-spirited romantic who's just broken up with her boyfriend due to her realization that she's always picked the wrong guy over her family. Alone and in search for the people they'd like to spend their last days with, the pair go on a road trip and what you can probably imagine would happen, happens. The thought of Carell and Knightley together is initially sort of repulsive, but the on-screen chemistry is actually fairly believable and in the end, quite touching. Without the backdrop of the apocalypse, the movie would be much less compelling and you do spend a lot of the film wondering if the end is really coming, probably more so than actually caring about the characters' journeys. And that kind of says it all, doesn't it?