It’s painful when a highly anticipated movie fails to pull off a delicate tonal balance such as what happened with “Seeking a Friend at the End of the World.” I attended my advanced screening wanting to review it, only to feel confused and disappointed almost at a point of feeling dumbstruck. I was curious with how Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley were going to work only to be let down. Reminiscent of Steve Carrell’s “Dan in Real Life,” ‘Seeking a Friend’ combines elements of a vulnerable romance and a human drama with comedic overtones. This time, ‘Seeking a Friend’ doesn’t pull off genuine emotion. There are brief moments when it does capture the audiences’ attention. Many times you feel so disconnect you have no reason to be upset the world is ending.
For a summer movie to feature the end of the world without showing much of the action is a big calculated risk. (The most audience’s see are explosions and fire during riots in New York.) Focus Features is a smaller studio, which excited me with curiosity of why they decided to make this film. This was one of my most anticipated movies of the summer 2012 season. The distribution of the film was modest and low key just playing at around 1600 locations. In fact, the Focus Features dramady made just a paltry $3.8 million this weekend at the box office. Luckily, the films’ budget is an extremely low $10 million so this shouldn’t be a financial loss for the studio. (This is impressive considering the films looks more expensive especially considering the casting of the two stars.)
The CinemaScore exit polling points out the faults of the “Seeking a Friend” and how it was disconnected from the audience. Earning a bad C+ rating shows it will probably kill any potential for word of mouth hit status. Males gave the film a B- while females gave it a C. Older audiences granted it lower ratings whiles younger audiences were much kinder. The pairing explains the division of preference based on age and gender: younger men probably preferred the movie because of the familiarity of the hip actors as well as the comedic aspect. However, older women possibly didn’t connect with the character nor probably found the actors pairing believable.
The romantic chemistry between Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley is unbelievable and unconvincing, which contributed to hindering the movie’s performance. Also, the casting of these two actors seems very dated and almost 5 years too late. Contrast this fact with a strong and underutilized supporting cast including Connie Britton, Patton Oswalt, and TJ Miller. These actors were a strong presence despite their practically brief cameos. For me, director Lorene Safaria (the overrated “Nick & Noria’s Infinate Playlist”) struck out with this romantic comedy and in my opinion both movies were underwhelming and not satisfying. Maybe this one will eventually find its niche audience? Let me know your thoughts on this film in the comments.