Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
With three weeks left until an asteroid decimates Earth, Dodge (Steve Carell) meets and befriends his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley). The pair leave their apartment building—because of rioting—and head out to find his ex-girlfriend and help her fly home to England. Along the way they encounter various offbeat and oddball characters, such as a group of overeager chain restaurant employees, a strange trucker (William Petersen), and Penny’s survivalist ex (Derek Luke).
If Dodge and Penny make better friends than potential lovers for the end of time—their love is not one for the ages—Seeking a Friend for the End of the World benefits from its small, quiet moments. When Penny describes her love of vinyl records (the film boasts a great soundtrack), or when Dodge reconnects with someone important in his life, Friend is quite touching. But there are some wasted episodes, such as a scene in which the characters comically end up in jail. Carell’s deadpan style of sad sack humor is no match for scene-stealers Patton Oswalt and Rob Corddry. Knightley is a game co-star, but her performance, like the film, is hardly earth-shattering.
Your Sister’s Sister
Writer/director Lynne Shelton scored a bullseye with Humpday, a hilarious mumblecore movie about two straight buddies who wanted to make a gay porno. Her sophomore effort, Your Sister’s Sister, also traverses issues of sexual identity and experimentation but with far less humor and success. Iris (Emily Blunt) instructs her best friend Jack (Mark Duplass) to go stay at her family’s cabin in the Pacific northwest after an awkward memorial service for his late brother. He arrives to unexpectedly encounter Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWItt), a lesbian who has just ended a seven-year relationship. The two strangers get drunk, have sex, and then, in the morning, Iris arrives, unannounced.
Much of the tension stems from Jack not wanting Hannah to tell her sister that they slept together. Much of Act II has two characters talking behind the other one’s back (breaking Jack’s rule not to). While some drama stems from Hannah’s veganism, the various confessions that are revealed cause all the characters to go into major tailspins. Yet little of this serio-comedy works; none of the revelations or relationships are believable, and the actors’ improvising feels strained. Like Hannah’s bad batch of gluten pancakes, Your Sister’s Sister is a noble effort that needs more flavor.
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