With my DSL connection (along with landline phone) out of commission for most of the holiday weekend, I had to scramble a bit for alternate forms of indoor winter entertainment. I’m not much of a TV watcher (we have cable for TV but Verizon for internet and phone) except for sports events, an occasional movie, or documentary, etc.
After flipping through channels for a little bit of Modern Family sitcomedy and some Louis CK stand up, I happened upon the strange opening scene to Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012) – IMDb. During a typical NJ highway traffic jam, a radio announcer broadcasts a news alert describing the tragic failure of a space shuttle mission intended to prevent a 70 mile wide asteroid from striking the Earth. The announcer closes by saying that the radio station intends to keep on broadcasting music and programming until the end of all humanity and then plays the Beach Boys‘ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. I remember reading generally favorable reviews about the film indicative of some dark humor that make the storyline more upbeat than audiences might expect.
The cast consists of several recognizable faces and stars Steve Carell, and, Keira Knightley, in a particularly impressive performance demonstrating her wide emotional rage as an actress. The “road movie” structured plot, along with a well-conceived somewhat ironic musical soundtrack make for a very entertaining film despite the doomstruck forgone conclusion. There are predictable depictions of people engaged in riotous looting and debauchery as they confront the end of days partying “like it’s 1999.” In fact, the choice of setting for the film in what seems late 80s-90s makes the story all the more interesting. Human activity is pre-internet; there’s really no The Day the Earth Stood Still inspired sci-fi special effects or gimmickry.
Whereas many films and stories have explored the eternally existential themes bracketed between lfe and death, this film is a compelling narrative examining how people re-connect with each other fully knowledgeable that they eventually all share the same fate all at once! The temporal concerns pertaining to employment, intimate relationships, Daylight Savings Time, mowing the lawn, etc. all get turned inside out.
Above: Screenshot is from the free iOS game app Space Classic-Asteroids Clone. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-classic/id585432332?mt=8
Funny how motivational speaker types these days like to ask their workshop participants things like “What is it you would want to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Hey, what would people do if they fully understood failure is inevitable? Perhaps absorbing such a story on the cusp of a brand new calendar year caused it to stick with me (incidentally I turned 56 years old a few days after New Year’s Day) but I highly recommend this quirky, thought-provoking film.