In the last few films that featured an asteroid hurling toward Earth, there is a frantic effort to blow the thing up before the E.L.E (Extinction Level Event - we learned that phrase from "Deep Impact"). The only recent film that didn't go that way was "Melancholia" which, in a sense, looks like the template for Lorene Scafaria's "Seeking a Friend for The End of the World".


However, instead of two sisters we get two polar opposite neighbors facing the inevitable.


The film opens with a radio news flash that a huge asteroid 70 miles wide is heading toward Earth and will destroy everything in three weeks. Apparently it's one of those things the government knew about because several attempts to thwart the rock have failed and all of humanity has 21-days to make peace. Of course humanity can make peace to classic rock tunes provided by the radio station!

Of course making peace is the last thing humanity is doing. Starting with Dodge (Steve Carell), a very ordinary sad-sack who's wife wants more. And just like his wife in "Crazy, Stupid Love" - she finds now is as good a time as any to leave him.


So here he is a broken man with no real friends and a wife who left him ready to face the end of the world alone. He seems content to do just that at home. But his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) is a bit of the opposite. She is young, flighty and somewhat wild.


But she finds a lost letter addressed to Dodge and delivers it to him. It turns out the letter is from his first love from high school. Being flighty, she encourages him to find her before the end of the world while also helping her get back to England so she can be with her family.


That's a good deal because New York is literally going up in flames as people riot.

Now it becomes another road trip. Granted a road trip with a definite ending, but still just a road trip.


The key to a successful road trip/buddy movie is the key characters must have some sort of chemistry. That chemistry can be volatile or passive, but there must be chemistry.


Unfortunately, there is little to no chemistry between Carell and Knightley. As they encounter a variety of odd characters on the trek, you almost hope they will find someone more compatible and split up.


Knightley is twenty three years Carell's junior and [sadly] it is not used in a good way. His character is too much of a sad sack. Maybe if he where a lecher or something we could relate. Maybe if either were overtly seeking each other it would have worked. But their characters don't feel as if they care about each other and why should we?


There are also serious continuity problems throughout the film. For example, the radio clearly states that all electricity would be off, yet every where they go, there is electricity. Dodge gets bitten by a spider with serious bumps, yet the next scene they are gone. It looks like an ongoing gag that mostly hit the editing floor - but should have been completely edited out.


Scafaria also fails to develop a reason for the audience to cheer for them or a reason to even give a damned about them. And that is a huge failing in a comical disaster movie.


"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" misses the mark especially coming so closely behind the superior "Melancholia". This is Lorene Scafaria's directorial debut and needless to say, she needs more skill.   -- GEOFF BURTON