Dodge (Steve Carrell) and Penny (Keira Knightley) attempt to respectively reconnect with the girl that got away and neglected family members, but they're on a clock: the end of the world is nigh
Steve Carrell wears an expression of melancholic shell-shock. Keira Knightley wears an army jacket, lilac sundress and oversized men's jumper. The pair are taking a road trip across America. Carrell makes speeches about having wasted his life. Knightley does the horrifying 'this is who I am' Pinot Noir speech from Sideways only here it's about old vinyl. Sounds like Little Miss Sunshine meets Garden State? It pretty much is, only this time it's all unfolding to the backdrop of an imminent extinction event. Welcome to the indie apocalypse.
The threat of the end of days is all too often shackled to a limited range of cinematic treatments. Sci-fi is your basic go-to genre, especially for anything bleak and dystopic, and action frequently gets a look in too, often for the more gung-ho variants where the apocalypse will tend to be averted by a small group of charismatic Americans. And you've got fantasy too, for a similarly optimistic take on the theme, where humanity plus assorted Mythic Beasts, Ancient Ones and sundry races of elves, robot butlers and what have you are saved by either a royal hero (Prince Colwyn from Krull), unlikely hero (Frodo) or unlikely, yet also, it turns out, royal hero (Luke Skywalker).
One area of film that's historically been a little less end-of-the-world and little more end-of-relationships is quirky indie Sundance movies about, like, love and stuff. And that's kind of a shame, because just as the genre constraints and expectations of mainstream rom-coms exclude certain stories and character traits that have found a home in more indie romances, so too are certain realistic human behaviours excluded from most apocalyptic filmmaking for reasons of genre. This attempt to do an indie version of the apocalypse is far from perfect, and the wheels fall off pretty much entirely at the end, but there are some really lovely touches earlier on that you just wouldn't get in Armageddon or Deep Impact. This is less Urban Warriors, more Urban Outfitters, which some will find entirely unacceptable, but hey - hipsters are people too, you know (and have been since before it was popular, obviously).
A certain generosity of spirit is required here, but the performances are excellent and the central premise of what everyday people would do with their last three weeks before the end of the world is a solid and amusing one.