The Overlooked Sci-Fi Movie That Finds Meaning At The End Of The World

By Josh Tyler | Published

Sci-Fi movie meaning

In less than a month, a 70-mile-long asteroid will slam into Earth and send a fireball around the globe, wiping out all life on our planet. There is no hope of survival. While the important, the wealthy, and the interesting rush around looking for distractions in a world where nothing matters, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World follows the journey of an insignificant and boring man who sets out to find meaning.

At first, Dodge (Steve Carell) keeps going to work. His wife left him the moment she found out they were all doomed, and he hopes to find comfort in the familiarity of routine. But there’s not much use for an insurance salesman when no one will be left to collect. So eventually, he gives up and stays home.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World REview
Dodge (Steve Carell) tries to carry on in at the end of the world

It’s entirely possible that Dodge would have sat alone in his darkened living room and simply waited for death if he hadn’t met Penny, the British girl downstairs who seems like she needs saving. They set out together on a journey to find Dodge’s long-lost high school girlfriend, with Penny tagging along on the promise that her new friend may have a way to fly her home.

Along the way, they encounter humanity in its death throes, people at both their best and their worst, doing their last bit of living. They’ll encounter moments of beauty and depravity in a world that at times seems too full and at others seems suddenly all too empty. Along the way Seeking a Friend ends up being not so much about the end of the world as it is about what happens when nothing anyone does matters.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World REview

Some people push on and keep doing their jobs, looking for normalcy in a world that’s no longer normal. Others go off the deep end, rioting, and pillaging and burning their way through what’s left of their life. Fathers start drinking with their kids. Otherwise faithful wives begin attending orgies. Why not try some heroin? It’s not like it matters if it does permanent damage.

Penny and Dodge don’t make much sense together. He’s an aging insurance salesman who’s never done anything with his life; she’s a free spirit who may have done too much.

Carell and Knightley are fantastic in completely different ways. They never really fit together and truth be told, don’t have much chemistry. Somehow that seems right, that seems real, in this dark time and place. Desperate for something, anything, two people who have no connection come together in a way they probably never would have… if anything mattered.

Steve Carell and Keira Knightley
Steve Carell as Dodge and Keira Knightley as Penny

Early on, the movie and its characters try to keep track. There’s a countdown, reminding us every now and then of just how many days humanity has left. At some point, though, around the same time that Dodge and Penny start to stop caring about it themselves, the ticking clock is abandoned, leaving their final moments as something that exists almost outside of time. They don’t, of course, and it’s inevitable that time will run out.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is haunting and thought-provoking. Writer/director Lorene Scafaria’s film is both funny and wrenching, mixing genuine moments of beautiful humanity with the ridiculous and extreme as Dodge and Penny travel across the landscape of our doom.

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Keira Knightley and Steve Carell in Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

Once we know it’s over, the world becomes incredibly simple. Scafaria takes advantage of that simplicity to build a story out of the quiet moments between two characters watching as a unique society full of color and variation fades away around them.

Before it all goes away, Penny and Dodge hope they’ll find something, anything that still means something. Whether they actually find it before the end or have, in fact, just talked themselves into accepting a passable facsimile to keep themselves sane is the only question you’ll be left wondering after it’s all over.

Steve Carell as Dodge
Steve Carell in Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

Unlike other end-of-the-world movies, focused on unrelatable characters or important people who have no connection to the life around you, Seeking examines what happens to someone normal faced with something beyond their ability to handle. It connects in a way the average, high-minded art film cannot.

Watch Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and probably walk away utterly depressed. That feeling is a good kind of melancholy, the kind that makes you look around and find meaning in the world we have around us.

Maybe it’ll all end tomorrow; if it does, find something that matters and hold on to it. That’s what Dodge and Penny would do.


Seeking A Friend for the End of the World is currently available to rent or purchase on most streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV.