Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World [movies]
As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.
The film opens with an announcement that a seventy-mile-wide asteroid named Matilda is on a collision course with Earth and that a last ditch effort to destroy it has failed. The world has three weeks until impact, at which time all of humanity will be wiped out. Dodge Petersen (Steve Carell) and his wife Linda (played by his real wife Nancy Carell) listen to the broadcast from the side of the road. Seconds later, Linda flees the vehicle without saying a word to him.
Dodge returns to his near-empty New York City workplace the next day, where he sells insurance. While everyone around him has reacted differently—from suicide to constant drugs to guilt-free sex—Dodge’s life has not changed at all. Even his housekeeper, Elsa, continues to show up and clean his apartment despite Dodge’s insistence that there is no further need to do so.
After attending a friend’s party, Dodge returns home to reminisce about his high school sweetheart, Olivia, when he notices his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) crying on the fire escape. She admits to him that she has just ended a relationship with her boyfriend Owen (Adam Brody) for making her miss an opportunity to see her family in England. Returning to her apartment, Penny gives Dodge a handful of mail she received for him but kept forgetting to deliver—unknowingly telling him that his wife Linda was having an extramarital affair.
Dodge storms off into the night, guzzling codeine-containing cough syrup and a window cleaner humorously named “Windose” in an attempt to kill himself. The next morning, however, he regains consciousness with a note on his sweater—reading “Sorry”—and a dog tethered to his foot. He takes the dog which he names Sorry home and opens the old mail Penny had been holding. Dodge is surprised to receive a letter from Olivia. The letter explains why she left him and what has happened in her life, ending that he was “the love of her life”. On the same night, a riot breaks out. Abandoning Owen amidst the rioters, Dodge explains to Penny that he knows someone who could fly her to England if she helps him find Olivia first. She agrees and the two set off for Dodge’s hometown in Delaware.
After running out of gas in New Jersey, Dodge and Penny are picked up by a sympathetic driver in a pick-up (William Petersen) who regales them with his life story. During a pit stop, the driver confronts Dodge, asking him how he is going to kill him. The driver makes light of Dodge’s confusion, admitting he had hired an assassin to have himself killed just before getting gunned down. After burying the driver with shovels he had been carrying for this purpose, Dodge and Penny drive on to a restaurant called Friendsy’s. After Penny playfully announces that they are there to celebrate Dodge’s birthday to the waitress (Gillian Jacobs), a frenzy of kissing and drinking breaks out. Penny and Dodge leave just as an orgy commences and, swept away in the spontaneity of the moment, the two have sex in the pickup.
Later, in Camden, Dodge and Penny meet Speck (Derek Luke), an ex-boyfriend of Penny’s and military man who appears prepared for the apocalypse. Speck reveals that he owns a satellite phone and lets Penny contact her family. After convincing Speck to loan them one of his fleet of Smart cars, Penny and Dodge finally track down Olivia’s whereabouts. Dodge exits the vehicle and starts toward the door, much to Penny’s disappointment. A short time later he returns, revealing he had simply left a note. Penny presses him for an explanation but he gives her none.
After affirming their feelings for one another during a mass baptism, Dodge and Penny drive to Somerset County to visit Frank (Martin Sheen), the father whom Dodge has been estranged from for nearly twenty-five years. Their reunion leads to arguing but eventually, they reconcile and the three bond over personal time and dinner. After Penny falls asleep, Dodge carries her outside and it becomes apparent that the pilot that he knew is his father, who is waiting for them in his airplane. Dodge gently rests her in the plane, whispering that she is the love of his life. He then nods to his father and watches as the plane flies away.
Dodge returns home to find Elsa once again cleaning his apartment. He scolds her, insisting that she be with her family, but in the end telling her he will see her next Thursday. He turns on the television, only to discover that Matilda is due to arrive one week earlier than expected. With only sixteen hours left, Dodge goes to Penny’s apartment with Sorry and listens to her records until the power goes out. In the dark, he finds Penny standing in the living room. Having told his father to turn around, she asks how he could have possibly left her. He admits that it was the stupidest thing he’d ever done, and the two share one final, tearful reunion.
Shortly after, they lie in bed with each other and they begin to talk of how things might have been had they known each other sooner. Penny is scared to think that in short moments they will all be gone when Dodge calms her and asks where she grew up. Penny tensely tells him of her childhood with her brothers and late sister when they begin to hear the deep booms off in the distance of Matilda colliding with Earth. Penny panics, telling him that she thought they could have saved each other, but Dodge assures her they did. Their final moments are spent smiling as a sudden light appears behind Penny in the background, which rapidly grows brighter and brighter until it starts to envelop them, at which point it becomes the white fade as the film ends.