With an apocalyptic asteroid strike due in three weeks, Dodge (Carell) wonders why he's still going to work at his dull insurance firm. Then he runs into Penny (Knightley), distraught because she's broken up with her boyfriend (Brody). Dodge wants to revisit his childhood sweetheart, while Penny wants to see her parents in Britain. And Dodge knows someone with a plane, so they team up. Along the road, they get help from a trucker (Peterson) and Penny's survivalist ex (Luke). But with the world ending, their priorities begin to shift.
The film's deadpan style suits Carell perfectly, drawing a laugh with a delayed eyebrow arch or a refusal to answer an obvious question. The first half is consistently hilarious because it so sharply skewers human nature, playing on people's people awkward reactions to impending doom. Dodge's best friends (Britton and Corddry) try to set him up with someone (a ridiculous Lynskey) so he's not alone, while another friend (Oswalt) disappears into anonymous sex.
Throughout, a newscaster (Moses) covers the last days in sensationalistic style until he's finally had enough.
As the fabric of society starts to crumble, the film centres on Dodge's and Penny's journeys. While we never believe that they're falling in love, their connection is touching. Carell beautifully underplays every scene, evoking Dodge's confusion as he finally works through long-held feelings. Knightley, meanwhile, gives a slightly too-big performance that distracts us with over-expressive physicality, never letting us see into Penny's soul.
Intriguingly, this only intensifies Carell's perspective while giving strong context to the many one-scene performances. And as the humorous tone gives way to a strong vein of plaintive sentiment, the film develops a warm, sweet tone that's thoroughly engaging. The climactic events take several surprising turns, as Carell and Knightley turn their performances inwards, catching the emotional resonance of the story's key themes. It's not just about making peace with past regrets; more importantly it's about being open to whatever life has in store.
Run time: 101 mins
In Theaters: Friday 22nd June 2012
Box Office USA: $6.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $6.6M
Distributed by: Focus Features
Production compaines: Indian Paintbrush, Mandate Pictures, Focus Features, Anonymous Content
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 88 Rotten: 70
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Producer: Steve Golin, Joy Gorman, Steven M. Rales, Mark Roybal
Screenwriter: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Keira Knightley as Penny, Steve Carell as Dodge, Melanie Lynskey as Karen, Patton Oswalt as Roache, Martin Sheen as Frank, William Petersen as Trucker, Rob Corddry as Warren, Gillian Jacobs as Waitress / Katie, Adam Brody as Owen, Amy Schumer as Lacey
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