Grae's Rating:

2.0

Seeking Coherence for the Tone of This Film

The first half hour of Seeking a Friend is the reason I love Steve Carell, and exactly what I want to see in a movie where Armageddon is coming and one man decides to find his true love. It's filled with dark humor, a burst of Patton Oswalt, people wearing their special-occasion clothes doing habit-forming drugs, and Carell being the "lovable nerd who turns out to be really cool if you just give him a minute" that he usually is in his movies. It's no surprise that after his character Dodge gets abandoned by his wife (Nancy Carell), he bumps into Penny (Keira Knightley), who is just the kind of space cadet who would benefit from a grounding force in her life…especially when the world is going to end.

Also in that first part, Adam Brody plays another hilarious role as the whacked out musician boyfriend of Penny, who is so short-sighted he barely notices something is going on in the world outside of his own angst. A dog gets abandoned and tied to a sleeping Carell, and Rob Corddry calls his child a horrible name. It's funny, and plausible, and great to watch. But then it seems to shift away from being a dark comedy into yet another bland romantic comedy where occasionally someone says something depressing to remind you about the approaching meteor.

Steve Carell is always great, because even when the movie is limping along trying to figure out where it's going, his great delivery makes average lines hysterical. I never quite bought his and Knightley's chemistry, and I think that's because he's such a strong comedic force, and I can't seem to find one on her filmography. It felt unbalanced and a little weird…and even though that may be what many of us find ourselves facing when Armageddon really comes, I guess I just envisioned it being more poetic than they ever manage to get.

Just like director/writer Lorene Scafaria's last film, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, the soundtrack really works, as it's filled with songs that you should be listening to when life as you know it is ending, such as The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore by the Walker Brothers, The Air That I Breathe by The Hollies, and This Guy's in Love With You by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Unfortunately, also like Nick and Norah, the screenplay works against anything great happening with the music because it feels too draggy and uneven--even the sounds of P.M. Dawn can't smooth things over. Luckily, the film has a great chick-flicky ending-before-the-ending that stirred my estrogen enough to go home feeling like Steve Carell just fed me some dark chocolate and wrapped me in a cashmere throw, which ain't a terrible day at the movies.

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