Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.
Road trip movies and romantic comedies are mainstays in American film. Often a dime a dozen, homogeneous and safe. Hollywood can make them cheap, and make them often, which they do. I vaguely remember seeing trailers for Seeking A Friend At The End of The World (2012), it looked like a droll rom com starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. I passed on the movie then based on the way it was marketed. Only after listened to C. Robert Cargill extol its storytelling and craft did I check it out (you can listen to his breakdown on a episode of the Junkfood Cinema Podcast if you are a Patron here).
The directorial debut of Lorene Scafaria starts strong and keeps you interested the whole time. In the first two minutes I knew I wasn’t watching a normal rom com, and that the promotional push in 2012 had completely missed the point of the film. The story opens up on Dodge (Carell) listening to the radio in his car with his wife. We learn that the NASA mission to destroy an asteroid heading towards earth has failed and the world will end in 16 days. Silently Dodge’s wife gets out of the car and runs away, we never see her again. Dodge is alone, and doesn’t know how to handle his impending doom.
Dodge encounters one of his neighbors Penny (Knightley), crying outside his fire escape. She hugs him and he tries to offer her some comfort. Dodge invites the young woman inside and Penny responds with “I promise not to steal anything if you promise not to rape me.” Holy crap, in that one line we get insight to the condition of the world facing the apocalypse and these two people’s matter of fact acceptance of it. The rest of the movie follows Dodge and Penny on a road trip so Dodge can meet his long lost sweetheart, and to find a plane for Penny to fly home to her family in England.
The road trip second act of the film has Dodge and Penny encountering a world where they run into several people dealing with their impending doom in different ways. It’s filled with fantastic cameos, and I don’t want to spoil those here. But each of the people they encounter are dealing with the end of the world in a different way. That examination of how humans handle mortality in different ways is incredibly fascinating to me. We see a man mowing his lawn, a dude bro lifting weights in the gym, a cop still enforcing traffic laws, adults doing heroin at a party just to try it out, and the crew of a TGI Friday’s type restaurant still working because they don’t know what else to do.
The best part of the film is how Scafaria handles the two leads. In any other film we should despise these characters. Dodge is a spineless white collar man, droll and uninteresting. Penny is a walking trope Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Both are painfully lonely and totally inappropriate for each other. In spite of this, we find ourselves drawn to and interested in these two people. We are rooting for them to find the happiness they are look for, to find love. And they do, and it just works. It doesn’t seem forced or convoluted, it’s just genuine, strange and unexplainable. Much like love really is. At the end the two characters truly find the friend they were looking for in each other, and the conclusion will make you cry in the best possible way. I really enjoyed this movie, and think many of you will as well. It’s currently on Netflix.
Movies new to me watched: 10/292
Other movies: 1/73
Total movies watched: 11/365
Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kbdekker.