A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a low-key romantic dramedy set during the last few weeks on Earth before an asteroid hits. As characters try to figure out how to cope and identify what matters most to them, there's a fair bit of uninhibited behavior, from excessive drinking to drug use (cocaine, heroin, weed) to casual sex and desperate hook-ups. That said, the movie's focus is much less on that reaction to the end of the world and much more on finding clarity and peace. Two characters have sex (nothing sensitive shown), and many others talk about sex or make sexual advances. Strong language includes "f--k" and "s--t"; violence includes two suicides (one direct and one via hired assassin) and rioting. Despite all this -- and the general sense of bleakness/despair underlining everything -- Seeking a Friend is actually very sweet and romantic.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A few weeks before the end of the world, Dodge (Steve Carell) finds himself alone; his wife has abruptly left him. Drifting through his final days, Dodge runs into a neighbor, Penny (Keira Knightley), whom he has never spoken to before. A lost letter ties their fate together, and they hit the road, Dodge intent on finding his first love and Penny hoping to locate a private plane to get back to her parents in England. While on the road, they encounter all kinds of different people, each choosing to spend the world's final days in his or her own way. Also along the way, Dodge and Penny begin to discover that what's most important may actually be right in front of them.
Is it any good?
Screenwriter Lorene Scafaria (Nick and Norah's Infinte Playlist) makes her directorial debut with SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, and it's a stunner. Unlike many other romantic comedies/dramedies of recent years, it's actually funny and actually romantic -- heartbreakingly so, since there's no "happily ever after" in store. Scafaria's simple premise has conjured up a world in which even the most mundane behavior somehow becomes infinitely important, or perhaps even funny. (If you had one week left to live, would you mow your lawn? Go to work?)
The movie's mood is somewhat bleak but colored with fascinating characters, all of whom seem to have already existed in the margins of the story; they feel alive. Likewise, Scafaria's choice of music is sublime -- Penny carries an armful of treasured LP records with her, even without a turntable to play them -- ranging from the Beach Boys to Scott Wilson. Each song rings with new meaning in this context, and each character choice has huge connotations. When the final choice is made, it means the world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Seeking a Friend for the End of the World depicts people's end-of-days behavior. How does their looming fate impact characters' behavior? Does it seem believable/realistic? What do you think you might do in that situation?
How do you think the movie might have been different if the world were ending through nuclear war or climate meltdown, rather than a runaway asteroid?
Are the characters role models? Are they intended to be?
- In theaters: June 22, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: October 23, 2012
- Cast: Keira Knightley, Steve Carell
- Director: Lorene Scafaria
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Romance
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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