This week we side stepped the macho men stripping and decided to see the new 'comedy' film from Steve Carell. Before I begin let me tell you that this isn't actually a comedy film. The marketing material may have you believe it is a comedy and the casting of Carell you would have thought guarantees this, however do not believe it. Yes it does have comedy elements but it is more a drama than a comedy. I could hear many sighs and complaints about the film throughout from groups who believed this was a comedy and instead had a film with more dramatic moments than comedy ones. To me this didn't make it a bad film as it actually works better as a light-hearted drama as opposed to an over the top comedy.
The plot is basically the title. Steve Carell plays Dodge whose wife runs from him, quite literally, when the radio announcer makes us aware that a giant asteroid is heading for Earth and all will perish in three weeks. Whilst basqueing in his new found loneliness he meets Keira Knightley's Penny who is depressed as she has missed the last plane to England and will never see her family again. When a riot ensure outside their apartment block they run with the promise that they will help each other seek the people they want to spend their last days with. What comes next is a road trip across America where they meet people who are handling the news in completely different ways. We have the extremes of people killing themselves early, others who have hired assassins to kill them and ones who decide to party in an orgy like way at a TGI Friday's style restaurant. It actually makes you question yourself as to what you would be doing in their situation.
The comedy elements in the film are few and far between, and in the screening we were in they weren't really greeted with many laughs. Instead most of the viewers were falling for these characters who were slowly falling for one another. That is the film basically. It isn't an end of the world epic it is a love film about two mismatched people. Dodge being a complete loner with no ambitions and Penny being a quirky hippie type. They are a mismatch but they are such good characters that you are wishing them to get together. The story is much more a character driven one with an Armageddon type back story. What is great about this as a back story is that there is no links to people attempting to save the world, or any hope that any one will survive. All of the fates are mapped out the moment this film begins. And due to this being the case it makes the ending that much better and more emotional, without a typical action packed scene. For an end of the world movie is does have a small budget as special effects are at a minimal.
The actors in the film are great. Carell is quite good at playing these types of roles but from the offset we route for him as he really looks like that lonely man. The opening scene where his wife bolts off to be with her lover is heartbreaking and instantly we are on board his journey. He is actually pretty good at a dramatic character as well as a comedy one. Knightley is also better than usual. At times she is slightly annoying but she plays the quirkiness in her character rather well. She also holds her own in a few emotional scenes with one being a phone call to her family, that Carell adds to due to his simple stare he gives her as she struggles to contain her emotions. They also play out the final scene fantastically and it was one of those scenes that ends in such a way that you feel satisfied at what you have just witnessed. It was an emotional rollercoaster. There are also cameos from several stars who most of you will recognise, all playing a character on their emotional journey. Each plays a character treating the news in their own way, and we must all sit their pondering which one of these we would be.
Granted this won't be the best film of the year but I think at the moment it is one of the most surprising. One because it isn't typical of the stars involved and two because I was completely drawn into these characters and into their world. It really is a lovely film that goes much deeper than an apocalyptic action flick. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a comedy. If you are a fan of Carell for his comedic performances alone than perhaps this is not for you, but if you like him as an actor full stop, than I definitely suggest you give this a go. I went in unsure what to think and I was not disappointed in the slightest.
Pros: Gets you thinking and the performances are brilliant.
Cons: Not as funny as the marketing would have you believe.
6.5 / 10
Top 10 of 2012 so far: (new feature: click on the film to be sent straight to the review)
1. The Hunger Games 8 / 10
2. Snow White And The Huntsman 8 / 10
3. Avengers Assemble 7.5 / 10
4. 21 Jump Street 7.5 / 10
5. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 7 / 10
6. The Grey 7 / 10
7. Prometheus 6.5 / 10
8. Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World 6.5 / 10
9. The Amazing Spider-man 6 / 10
10. American Reunion 6 / 10