|year: 2012 cast: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley rating: ***|
Beginning with Steve Carell’s mellow everyman Dodge listening to a radio report – the space shuttle attempting to blow up the asteroid has failed (perhaps a nod to DEEP IMPACT and ARMAGEDDEN) and now it’s just a matter of time. Oddly enough, Dodge’s workplace insurance company is still going – there’s a few glum people dressed casually while other workers leap from the building top. And Dodge’s girlfriend just left him so he’s got a little more to sulk about.
Scenes with Dodge at a party where kids drink booze and heroin’s treated like a tequila shot provide visual punchlines to how society just doesn’t care anymore. Especially Dodge, waiting for the end till fate gives him a personal reprieve in the form of his beautiful apartment neighbor Penny.
Elfin beauty Keira Knightley adds an essential spice but her daffy quirkiness gets annoying – especially during the impending road trip where, after a suspenseful scene involving a rioting mob, Dodge and Penny seek his long lost girlfriend and a plane that can get her back home.
There’s a point where the energy fades and we’re left with Penny's overlong diatribes that halts the pace. And Carell’s one-note stunned deer in headlights expression doesn’t always help matters. But as a whole, these two characters successfully represent hope in a literally dying world, and by the end you’ll feel fitfully vacant in the outcome that, for better or worse, couldn’t have concluded any other way.