Are you always stuck at the dullest party or quietest pub on New Year’s Eve? Plagued by a sense that wherever you are is not ‘where it’s at’? Well, imagine there are only 21 days left to the end of the world and you get stuck watching the wrong end of the world movie.

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This is Armageddon or Deep Impact told from the point of view of the people left on earth waiting for news of the mission to destroy the giant asteroid that is on collision course with the planet. Only this is the version where Willis/Affleck/Duvall mess up.

So which movie star would you like to spend those last 21 days with? Bill Murray? George Clooney? Maybe Larry David? Out of seven billion potential stories, debutant writer/director Lorene Scarfaria opts for Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.

He is a dull self-pitying insurance salesman whose wife runs out on him, literally, the moment the news is announced; she is his kooky downstairs neighbour and their story is a mismatch rom com road movie about him going to look for his high school sweetheart.

All you need to know about their characters is that he plays a mouth organ and she is a vinyl obsessive who has a Keep Calm and Carry On poster.

Quite how bad a choice they are for the last 21 days is revealed in an hilarious early party scene in which all his friends – genuinely funny people like Rob Corddry and Patton Oswalt – are embracing the situation by letting their inhibitions go and having fun while Carell acts like an uptight prig.

It is said that cockroaches are the only living creatures that would survive a nuclear holocaust but whatever it is Carell has rammed up his backside would surely remain unscathed.

Unbelievably for an Anchorman cast member, Carell has slowly developed into something of a hate figure for me. Keira though is someone I often have time for but this shows her in the worst possible light. You can sense that the director has let her “find the character” herself and what she’s found is pretty much Keira Knightley.

Of course if a Steve Carell/Keira Knightley rom com is how you want to spend your last days then this is perhaps not the worst one.

There are funny and affecting bits but the idea of spending my last days on earth looking at close ups of Steve Carell looking wounded yet wise and listening to Keira Knightley chunter on about vinyl recording is just about torture.

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (15)

Director: Lorene Scarfaria

Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, William Petersen, Derek Luke and Adam Brody

Length: 94 mins

**

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