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I guess I just like liking things

I was immediately intrigued by this movie when I saw the trailer for it. Steve Carell plays a sad sack like no one else (reference Dan in Real Life or Little Miss Sunshine) and Keira Knightley has done some fun things. The plot, though, is what really drew me in. From IMDb:

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.

“As an asteroid nears Earth” can go a couple of different ways, and I should probably let you know at the outset that I much prefer Deep Impact to Armageddon, Bruce Willis notwithstanding. I like explosions as much as the next guy, but I also like a good what if.

Two minutes into Seeking (I’m not typing the whole title out any more, sorry!) we find out an asteroid is headed to Earth and will hit in three weeks. The last attempts to thwart disaster have failed, and… well, there really isn’t an “and.” That’s pretty much what you get. The movie centers on Steve Carell’s improbably-named character “Dodge: and what he does with his last weeks.  Two seconds after he and his wife hear the news, she jumps out of the car and is never seen again.  (I don’t think that’s a spoiler, because it happens two minutes into the movie, and the trailer makes it pretty clear she’s not around.  Still, if you’re a Spoiler Purist let me say first, why are you on the Internet ever? and second, I’m very sorry for ruining everything.)  I got the distinct impression that he was more destroyed by his wife leaving than by Earth’s imminent destruction, but there’s a case to be made for “a little from Column A, a little from Column B.”

When I put the word out on Twitter that I enjoyed the movie, one friend responded that she and her husband found it “predictable,” and I couldn’t argue with that.  As I said to her, I don’t necessarily mind predictable.  Because, sure, you can watch the trailer or even hear the main premise of the movie and surmise the ending, but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

For me it was about the atmosphere. We first see Dodge continuing to go to his insurance job and we think, sure, many would want to stick to their routine. In the face of panic, what you know can become a source of comfort. Pretty soon, though, most people have stopped going to their jobs. Along the way we see hedonists and survivalists, angry mobs and isolationists.  Building a sorta-rom-com/road trip movie on this backdrop was completely interesting to me, even if larger themes weren’t touched on like they could have been.  For me, the glimpses into the possible thought processes were intriguing enough for me to build out my own theories from there, but I’ll admit that there’s room for another movie to handle this topic from a weightier viewpoint, even while I’ll also say that I think Deep Impact already started that essay.  Here’s my guarantee, though: if you make another movie that does this, I’ll watch it. Deal?

I know for a fact that certain movies affect me differently at different times in my life. While I can still enjoy Strange Brew‘s ridiculousness, I don’t enjoy it the same way I did when I first saw it 20+ years ago, even if it is one of the most inventive retellings of Hamlet you’re likely to experience. Same with Garden State – I’ll still list it as one of my favorite movies, but it doesn’t speak the same things to married me as it did single me. I suspect if I had seen Seeking ten years ago, I might not have liked it as much.

My official pronouncement on Twitter was “You would most likely hate Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, but it was exactly the sort of movie I love,” and I’m sticking by that.

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