Release Date: June 22, 2012
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Stars: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Melanie Lynskey
Runtime: 101 min
Tagline: Nice knowing you.
The end of the world will occur in three weeks’ time, because an asteroid called ‘Matilda’ threatens to collide with the earth. Dodge (Steve Carell) is left alone because his wife fled in a panic. He finds an old letter from his high school sweetheart, and he sets out on the road to find her. Accompanying him is his somewhat irresponsible heavy sleeper of a neighbour, Penny (Keira Knightley), who is trying to spend her last days on earth with her family.
You guys know who Sean Bean is, right? He portrays Odysseus in Troy, he stars as the killer in The Hitcher, and he portrays Eddard Stark on TV’s Game of Thrones. I’ll get to the point: his character dies in a good majority (his character dies in two out of the three titles listed above) of the films he’s in, so whatever film he’s in, he’s often a living and breathing spoiler alert for it.
SMALL SPOILER ALERT OF THE BLATANTLY OBVIOUS ENDING: Like Sean Bean, the title of this film, specifically the words “End of the World,” is a spoiler in itself. It makes the ending predictable from the get go, but the pay-off of how these characters get to the end is just great. END OF THAT SPOILER.
Lorene Scafaria brings us this great film as her directorial debut, but not her first writing gig. The other film she has written is 2008’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Scafaria is a figure that is easy to admire, because she is the first person to make the concept of the end of the world pretty freaking funny. Don’t get me wrong, this is more of a drama than anything, but it really does have its fair share of laughs. From the beginnings of an orgy at one of the last standing restaurants in the world, to a housekeeper who just doesn’t
comprehend that the world is ending because she just keeps working. Seriously, someone tell her in Spanish! For those lovers of corky humour like this will adore this film, but others may just be asking aloud, “Was I supposed to laugh at that?” It really is quite the treat for those who may respect it for what it is.
There’s a bit of a slow pacing here, but it does all flow pretty well together. It’s not all about the end of the world, because that’s just a smaller plot point than the whole of it all; it’s about getting to know these great characters of Dodge and Penny, and the friends they encounter along the way. The motivations of these two characters are easily understood. One wants to find the one that got away, and who wouldn’t want to spend time with that one special person if they didn’t have anyone else? And Penny’s motivations are to see her parents in the last few days on earth, because she feels bad for all the things she’s missed before.*
*Note: Who would you choose to spend your last days with?
The chemistry between Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, is surprisingly touching and pleasant. Out of Hollywood’s matches, I would have never guessed that these two would be paired together. It’s the big surprise of them being paired together, and the corkiness of their relationship, that make them such a great pair. Their relationship is also pleasant, as they’re both frantic and easy-going in a time like this. The atmosphere is both corky and fun.
Scafario just creates one of the most original, and one of the best surprises of the year, because I really wasn’t sure if I’d like this one at all. It turned out to be one of my favourite films of the year that has a really long title.