We’ve seen dramatic and extreme post-apocalyptic thrillers almost as many times as we’ve survived the Rapture, and it is hard to imagine that anyone can interpret the theme in a way that would make a movie more enjoyable. However, none of the previous films starred Steve Carrell or stayed completely in the pre-apocalyptic world. As it turns out, these two facts make a huge difference.
Dodge (Carrell) learns that nothing can be done to prevent the imminent destruction of the world while in the car with his wife, Linda (Nancy Carrell, formerly Nancy Walls and hilarious without saying a word). Linda then literally runs away, and so begins the story of Dodge’s terrible misfortune. He is a modern-day adult version of Charlie Brown – likeable, but not extraordinary in any sense except for his ability to attract sadness. Seeking then shows how everyone else is coping with the news, and Dodge doesn’t seem very interested in surfing, sex, or suicide, so he just meanders through the madness sipping his cough syrup. He probably would have done that for the entire three weeks left of his life were it not for a his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley), a flighty girl trying to get a flight back to her family in England. The two escape a riot (and Penny’s loser boyfriend, perfectly played by Adam Brody) and set out on an adventure so that Dodge can say goodbye to his high school sweetheart and Penny can get to England by way of Dodge’s friend who owns a plane.
The commercials portray this film as more of a comedy, and it is delightfully funny in some spots, but this film is far more emotionally and intellectually stimulating than it is amusing. I remember thinking at the end of 2005’s War of the Worlds, “I wish they had spent more time focusing on humanity.” The human experience of facing the end of life is so complex and so unique to every individual, and Director Loren Scafaria succeeds in showing the despair, decadence, and delusions that people would definitely be wrapped up in were this to occur in real life.
Carrell is brilliant as usual with his effortless self-effacing humor. He seems to have worked on his deadpan skills as his funniest moments include reacting to crazy events with a blank stare or monotone comment. Knightley manages to be an effervescent and bubbly realist without being annoying, which makes Penny a completely plausible running buddy for Dodge, who can’t take much more agitation. These two stars have a chemistry that allows Dodge to come out of his shell and live the last days of his life the way he wished he had lived all along. A few people live in less inspiring ways to awesome comedic effect. Elsa, Dodge’s housekeeper, still diligently comes to clean his house and even instructs him to get more “Windows” while shaking a nearly empty bottle of glass cleaner. Warren (fellow Daily Show alum Rob Corddry) celebrates the end of responsibility by boozing it up and sharing his drinks freely, even with little kids. These scenes, however, are merely distractions from how Dodge and Penny learn more than they ever imagined about life and the world simply because it is all coming to an end. Despite the hokey-ness, I must admit that I got teary-eyed as the characters realized that all that matters is the present moment.
Focus Features does a great job of producing equally thought-provoking and heartstring-pulling films and Seeking is no exception. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and with any luck, you’ll leave the theater thankful that you most likely have more than three weeks to make the most of your life.
Final Grade: A