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Monday, July 2, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

The tragedy of this movie is not the plot where the world is ending, but the fact that it really could have been a good movie. It had some moments that reached for comedic and existential greatness, but then those moments were just completely dropped in favor of a boy-meets-girl, cliché, run-of-the-mill movie that’s so sadly reflective of our time and society that it was like a parody of itself (and our movies). Here’s what I mean: In our culture, we have no higher power and really no purpose besides pleasure. But one higher power remains: the concept of romantic love. If we find this great love that is always good, forever, until we die, then our lives have meaning. It is the ultimate hope, the ultimate truth, and the reason we keep living. Everything is alright if we end up with the right person. Barring that, we should hook up as much as possible because one day we will die anyway (maybe today), and we should gather up all the love possibilities we can. Every song on the radio is about love. Almost every movie has a romantic subplot. The bestselling books are romance.

If we don’t have someone, we are rushing to find someone, wallowing in our loneliness. If we DO have someone, what are we if we are not single and free to find someone else (our truer love)? The story is over and we’re bored. There’s no contentment on either side, because we’ve built romantic love up to be this thing that can save us and make us feel whole. And guess what? It doesn’t. It’s just not big enough. Modernity is obsessed. And you think, “Well, how else is it supposed to be?” Believe it or not, there were cultures that weren’t as driven to find romance. There are cultures that didn’t value it enough. What we’re saying is that just about everything should be in moderation.

So along comes this movie. It’s a movie about what people are doing when they know the world is going to be hit by an asteroid and end in three weeks. The first thirty minutes or so of the movie are brilliant. The humor is dark and rings true. It’s so different from your usual comedy. It’s peering into the abyss and grasping for answers while making us laugh at the same time. We see Connie freaking Britton (Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story). Britta from Community is a bright spot in the movie’s middle, by the way. The movie reflects on the pointlessness of some jobs at the end. You know, if the world were ending, artists would become the most important workers on the planet. You’d want to see a beautiful concert before you died. You wouldn’t need the guy selling insurance.

Some people live in denial that the world is ending, going about their days, like lots of people facing death or its possibility. Some people start partying, getting high, and hooking up. Some people reconnect with their families. Some people (realistically) start rioting and stealing. Some people build a bomb shelter, thinking they can still make it. Some people just end it all early, crazed with lack of purpose. Some of the people in the movie just try to make the best of things, like the two main characters in this movie. But then they fall in love. WHAT?!?! Suffice it to say, we really didn’t like the ending. The movie backed away from the dark humor and hard question and slapped Hallmark Card love onto the ending. Does everything have to be about that? Even a movie about the end of the freaking world?

While the movie started out with black humor, it got slow and sappy in the middle and then, for the most part, it stayed there. It gets worse as it goes along. Also, Steve Carell and Keira Knightly had little chemistry and didn’t make a believable couple. Don’t cry "spoiler" at us for telling you they get together. Have you seen movies before? Also, the movie is super predictable. Now, if it had continued to examine the meaninglessness of life in a funny way, like Fight Club, it would have veered away from formula and achieved greatness. The acting in this movie was good. Keira Knightley doesn’t get enough credit for being able to act. We didn’t like her character at first because she was a) the cliché manic pixie dream girl and b) really stupid in the brain. Why are innocent, naïve, dumb women sexy to people? Wait, don’t answer that. We know. We just don’t have to like it.

Anyway. This one started out interesting and then turned into sludge on us. No one we went with liked the movie and just about everyone was bored. It was just another rom-com and an ineffective one at that.

Movie grade: C-

1 comment:

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