Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Would You Do If You Knew The World Was Ending?

I thought I would review a film BEFORE I see it, for a change.  Appropriately, "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World" (Steve Carell and Keira Knightley) would be a very good candidate for such silliness.  But is it really that silly?  I mean, I don't want to get philosophical about a funny love story, but the end of the world technically happens every second on our planet.  To be exact, it happens every second for precisely 1.78 people.  That's 107 people every minute, 6,408 every day.  You have to admit, that's a lot of dead people.  It makes the famous line that the creepy kid from "The Sixth Sense" delivers ("I see dead people...") seem like an embarrassing understatement.  Yeah kid, sit down before you hurt yourself.  You and half the planet see dead people all the time.

But back to our lovable yet terribly unlucky guy, Steve Carell.  Perception is reality, isn't it?  Meaning, if you attempt to watch time actually move by staring at the hour digit on a clock, you're in for a very painful experience.  But look into the eye of the milliseconds long enough and it will make you want to go hug your dog and kiss a homeless guy as if it were your last day on earth.  Yes, time, like death, is a matter of perspective.  If we don't know exactly when "it" is going to happen, then it's like staring at the hour digit.  But in end-of-the-world stories like "Melancholia" or "Seeking A Friend", the spotlight suddenly shifts to the milliseconds.

We're told that our down-and-out hero has been left by his wife, when she learns that our planet is about to be squashed like a cockroach by one of those apocalyptic monsters: a big-ass rock.  We're also told that Carell's character ends up meeting a girl that becomes his, well, friend for the end of the world.

You have to admit, it does make you pause for a few seconds and wonder: I mean, what would you do?  Seriously, it's not that crazy a thought when you consider either ending: the one from a silly Hollywood movie, or the one that happens every time you blink.

The beauty of reviewing a movie without actually knowing how it's going to end is that it is precisely where life and art intersect.  No imitation here.  None of us really know how our own story is going to end either, even as it happens all around us.  In our "real" world, the end does not come suddenly and at the same time for everyone.  Not yet anyway, though we're also told that's how the previous tenants on our planet (the dinosaurs) were asked to take a final bow.  Still, our less dramatic, real-world endings happen every second nonetheless, like a Hollywood ending unfolding in super-slow motion.

However "Seeking A Friend" ends, I will bet on this: most people will leave the theater feeling like they should go hug their dogs, maybe give that homeless guy a... OK, a quarter or two.  After all, let's not get crazy here, it's only a movie.  It's not like it's the end of the world.  But just in case, try to hug your dog more often, and maybe carry some extra change in your pocket...


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