Whether Steve Carell is playing a cuckolded husband in “Crazy, Stupid Love,” a heartbroken gay man in “Little Miss Sunshine,” or a more ruminative Michael Scott in season seven of “The Office,” the actor makes brooding underdog characters likeable and sympathetic.
Playing a serious and perpetually perplexed insurance salesman, Dodge, in the bleak but ponderous rom-com “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” Carell is solid and easily endearing, as the character is somewhat similar to those previous roles. What’s really different this time is everything else; faced with impending doomsday in the form of an approaching asteroid called Matilda, Dodge feels hopeless and friendless. But his silent suffering bizarrely escalates after meeting the flaky English neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley), who later joins him on an unplanned road trip.
“Seeking a Friend” is an intimate, effects-free film that’s able to use its actors’ strengths effectively. From their clashing of personalities to the inevitable blossoming of their friendship, these are characters that form a believable rapport. Knightley is especially pleasing as the optimist and romantic with deep familial bonds, surprisingly a good foil to the more mature Carell’s pensive and jaded character.
The unlikely friendship becomes a curious attraction; while there are comedic parts, the film’s more serious moments provide depth and cohesion, intimately delving into the pains and pleasures of Carell’s latest underdog.
“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is an Ayala Cinemas exclusive.