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February 29, 2024

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    Richard Saker/Contour by Getty Images As we end Black History Month, here is one of my favorite poets, Danez Smith, who writes on intersectionality between their Black and Queer identities. At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Kansas City, MO, I had the opportunity to personally meet Smith, and they are […]
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Spring Housing Guide

Movie Review: ‘Seeking a friend for the end of the world’

‘Seeking a friend for the end of the world’
‘Seeking a friend for the end of the world’

Grade: A-

In most end-of-the-world films, millions of dollars are spent making 3-D explosions, creating alien skin tones and hiring the world’s best cinematographers.

“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” has a different focus: it’s an emotionally charged dark comedy that couldn’t care less about impressing sci-fi fans with computer generated effects.

Though it’s labeled a comedy, it’s not a “comedy” comedy like “The Hangover.” In high school, your English teacher said Shakespeare’s comedies aren’t “funny” as we know funny. It’s a similar situation here.

Plain, sweater vest wearing Dodge (Steve Carell) is newly divorced, works a boringly secure job at an insurance company and has serious family issues. Not to mention a 70-mile wide asteroid is going to destroy Earth and kill everyone in 21 days.

As Earth experiences its final 30,000 seconds, Dodge watches the news, which is both satirical yet emotional. When the anchorman moves to traffic, the reporter responds with three simple words: “We’re f—-d, Bob.”

Imagine traffic during the last month of the world. And you thought Wooster Street was bad the Friday before Labor Day.

In this world, it’s a story about how Dodge and his vinyl-collecting neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) spend their last three weeks alive. The two are complete opposites: Penny, a free-spirited hoarder and Dodge, a straitlaced insurance worker.

Both with nowhere to turn, Dodge and Penny travel across the country to take care of last-minute business before time is up. Dodge wants to find his high school sweetheart while Penny wants to see her family in England.

Neither gets what he/she originally wants. But they both get what they need. And they are ultimately happy because of it.

“It’s funny,” Penny said. “We’ve lived next door all this time and we’ve never even said hello.”

There are two lessons here: (1) Sometimes, we ought to stop and look around. There are thousands of people everywhere with amazing stories to tell. Maybe they could change our lives if we stop and talk to them. (2) The worst situations — even the imminent destruction of planet Earth — can end up changing our lives for the better. Fate has a way of working itself out.

“It had to be this way,” Dodge said with a soft smile in his final moments.

Dodge was never fully happy living his daily life; at the end of the world, he is content. With the way his life was going, he would’ve continued down an uneventful path and died without experiencing or feeling much of anything. Though his life is arguably insignificant and he even has to experience the apocalypse, he dies infinitely satisfied. Can he ask for anything better?

No, this is not a disaster movie. In a twisted way, the apocalypse is exactly what Dodge and Penny needed.

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