I have very mixed feelings about the new Steve Carell apocalypse movie, Seeking a Friend For the End of the World. On the plus side, the movie is packed with brilliant cameos to the tune of Patton Oswald, Gillian Jacobs, Rob Corddry and Rob Huebel, (Children's Hospital) just to name a few. Additionally, I love apocalypse scenarios, the more illogical the better.
In the film at hand, the media gets wind of an approaching asteroid that will ultimately destroy the world and everything in it. The trailer takes us through people's absurd, yet seemingly accurate, reactions to the news. Do you fire your house cleaner? Drink like there's no tomorrow, because there isn't? Cheat on your wife? Run for the hills? Or wallow in your own self-pity? Any and all of these are appropriate responses to the news of the end of days.
Where I see this movie potentially bombing is its very apparent love story angle. The plot takes Steve Carell and his longtime neighbor Keira Knightly on a road trip to find Carell's long lost sweetheart and Knightly's family before the planet turns into dust. If I were a gambling man, I would put money on a Carell/Knightly make out scene at the end of the movie. Isn't it always when the world ends that you find your true love (I might even put money on the world not ending in this flick)?
As someone who's been enamored with apocalypse films, I have found that there are several common attributes that stick out as to how the end of days will play out and absolutely none of them are true.
1. You will not find your soul mate after the world ends.
There are many post-apocalyptic films that have a secondary romance plot. In Zombieland, the nerdy Jesse Eisenberg finds love with Emma Stone, who would never date him had there not been an infestation of the living dead. Terminator 3 tells of the foretold love affair between John Conner and the girl he first spun the bottle with, who would eventually become his wife and mother to his father. Then there was Neo and Trinity in The Matrix, fighting together against forces in a world that doesn't even make sense, but they find sexual chemistry. Sort of.
Listen to me when I tell you that an ill-fated love affair will not happen to you after the world ends. Firstly, if you are lucky enough to survive, it is doubtful that the one person, who you've spent your adult life looking for would also be so lucky. You are taking a planet of roughly 6 billion people and whittling it down to, say, 100,000. Do you honestly think that your soul mate is one of them?
Secondly, the world just ended and life is crazy. Even if your true love was around, getting hot and heavy with you would not be priority numeor uno. Plus, you look terrible and have not had a shower in several days/months.
In the event that you even run into another human being, do what your mother has been telling you to do for years - settle.
2. You will not have the know how to use nuclear/automatic/highly complicated technologies or gain superhuman strength.
In so many apocalypse movies the day is saved by the simple blast of a semi-automatic weapon or the innate ability to jump-start a car or fly an abandoned helicopter. In The Postman, Kevin Costner, a Shakespearean thespian, finds the power to forge and lead an army. In The Day After Tomorrow a bunch of bourgeoisie teens find the inner wherewithal to fight ravenous wolves.
Here's the thing you should ask yourself, and be honest: can you light off a hand grenade? Can you fight wild animals with your bare hands? Can you guess as to how you might even start the engine of a small plane? I mean now, can you do these things now?
Then why would your life be any different after aliens invade? Of course there is a survival of the fittest aspect and we as humans have the ability to adapt, but adaptation is a far cry from understanding how atoms are split and how you might harness this power to save your own ass. Most people still don't know how to work a VCR let alone an uzi. 3. You will not start dressing in metal-plated, fur-coated loincloths.
For some reason the bulk of post-apocalyptic movies are set in the future, some were made so long ago that their future is our past. Even the films that are set in present day, find their characters dressed in the most unbelievable apparel. Take Tina Turner's infamous ensemble in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Maybe you can excuse a dress made out of chainmail for protective purposes but this thing is barely covering her. How could she be warm in this outfit? The world has gone crazy, put some pants on!
Where did all the jeans go? If human beings can survive a natural or super-natural catastrophe, I would wager that a few pairs of Levi's would make the cut; they made it all the way through the gold rush and thems were hard times! At the very least those Duluth work pants will be around, which are known to be tougher than an angry beaver. 4. You will probably not find your family.
I am very sorry to tell you this, and of course you will still go look for them, but it's doubtful that you will find your family. One of the most implausible plot points of The Walking Dead is that the main character so easily finds his wife and son. I will believe a zombie invasion, but that you can so casually run into your missing kin in a random forest? Not so much.
I know, I know, "but what if they are alive!" and if you don't at least make an attempt at rescue, you are a horrible person wretched with guilt. Think about this. When you got lost in Macy's or Great Adventure, what were you told to do? Stay where you are.
Post-apocalypse rules are no different. Don't go off gallivanting around a nuclear wasteland. If you made it through alive, count your lucky stars and find some Twinkies to live off of until the radiation dies down.
5. You will not be the only person left on the planet.
While being the only human survivor to power through to the end may seem like a lovely, fantastical notion, it is by no means a reality. Think. If you made it, surely someone else did. Well, I should ask you this first: are you either Will Smith or Charlton Heston? No? Then there is someone else out there.
To survive an apocalypse is easy enough if you use the Dodgeball Wussy Strategy Rule: Hide in the corner until almost everyone else is gone and then you will look like you are really good at dodgeball and/or surviving rain fireballs. If you wind up using this foolproof strategy, wouldn't you assume that others would as well? I just told you about it, so you know I'll be alive, as will all the other people that just read this.
Point being, you are not alone. So, let's all meet up at the Prince's downtown.
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