"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"

What would you do if you knew, with certainty, that all life on Earth would end in a few weeks time when a giant asteroid slams into the planet? Would you rush through your bucket list? Hunker down with your family? Settle old scores? Riot? Self-medicate?

For writer and director Lorene Scafaria, the answer is: to find love. Her thoughtful film is not the typical apocalyptic type with "Mad Max"-like characters marauding about in black leather. Yes, social norms in Scafaria's world break down, but people keep coming to work and doing their jobs, too, even though the end is near.

Steve Carell is also not what you'd expect, cast as the lonely-hearts lead. Carell does some of his best work as an actor -- not as a zany comedian -- but as an understated, regular guy. Co-star Keira Knightley, who is a tad annoying as a frazzled hippie, joins Carell on an epic end of the world road trip. He's seeking the girlfriend who got away and she's going to find a plane that can take her back to England to spend the final days with her parents.

Faced with their own impending death, Scafaria's characters bring forward the best of their humanity. The quality of the concept, writing, directing and Carell's acting make this a must-see.

Best for kids 14 and older. (R: Violence, drugs and language). 1 hour and 41 minutes.


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Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 3½ stars

Kids: N/A

Teens: 3 stars

Adults: 3½ stars

Seniors: 3 stars

Should you watch it? Yes -- a terrific film that uses the darkest moments to enlighten.

"LOL"

I am not a Hannah Montana hater. When singer Miley Cyrus's Disney Channel doppelgänger was all the rage, my daughter happily took part, and I was not going to rain on her parade.

So I came with an open mind to this further attempt by Cyrus to bridge away from the Disney crowd and into the adult mainstream. Perhaps that was a mistake.

Cyrus plays a popular teenager suffering through all of the love life dramas that accompany her age. Demi Moore co-stars as her hipster mom. It all goes south from there. Cyrus may be a good actress, but it's impossible to tell in this third-rate film that, among many failings, has an intellectually threadbare script with dialogue worthy of a first-year screenwriting student on academic probation. I disliked all of the characters and wished multitudes of plagues upon them.

Die-hard Hannah fans who may now be old enough to watch this more mature work will also be disappointed. There is none of the energy from the TV show, or frankly anything else of value, in this film.

Best for kids 12 and older. (PG-13: Language, drugs and sexual themes). 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 1½ stars

Kids: N/A

Teens: 2 stars

Adults: 1 stars

Seniors: 1 star

Should you watch it? No -- an epic failure in attempting to show modern teenage life.

J.B. Alderman lives in Piedmont and can be reached at jason@alderman.net.

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