How would you spend your time if you knew you only had a few weeks to live before an asteroid destroys the world?

If you are Dodge (Steve Carell), a lowly insurance salesman who has has slept walked through life and whose wife runs off the minute the doomsday clock begins, you need a good jolt to figure out how to make the most of your last few weeks. That jolt comes in the form of his neighbor, Penny (Keira Knightley), a free spirit who bursts into his life and admits she has inadvertently taken some of Dodge’s mail, including a love letter from his high-school sweetheart. The two end up embarking on a road trip to find this love of Dodge’s life – and to help Penny get home to the England to see her family one last time – but of course, things don’t go exactly as planned. They both realize that just being together as life ends is what really counts.

Carell is perfect as the everyday guy who only comes to life just as it is about to be snuffed out. The serio-comic actor has cornered the market on these reactive characters in such stellar efforts as Dan in Real Life, Crazy, Stupid Love and Little Miss Sunshine and understands how not to overplay the downtrodden-ness and emphasize the hopefulness. Knightley, however, isn’t quite on the same level as Carell. It may make sense for Dodge and Penny to quickly form an attachment due to their limited time together, but the romantic turn of events seems out of place, mostly because Knightley can’t quite pull it off. As for the side characters, there are a number of sweet and funny turns from the likes of Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Patton Oswalt, William Petersen and Martin Sheen.

Putting the forced relationship between the main characters aside, Seeking a Friend is still very effective, offering a unique twist to the apocalyptic genre – namely, seeing what the people go through before the weather goes haywire or the zombies start eating brains or the aliens start laser cutting the population. Seeking writer Lorene Scafaria (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), who also makes her directorial debut with the film, really does embrace life in a surprisingly real and powerful way. There is a wonderful scene in which Dodge and Penny encounter a large group of people enjoying a day on the beach, after several of them have been baptized in the ocean. So, again, I ask the question: What would you do if the end of the world were near? Seeking a Friend is definitely thought provoking, and at least for me, made me go home and hug my loved ones.

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