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Movie Review: Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

Mike Finkelstein is terrified about the end of the world. He’s wondering how things will work out if we all knew that everything was going to end. However, instead of watching some Michael Bay movies to brush up on the subject (Bruce Willis got out of the oil drilling business years ago), he decided to aim for something a little more…human. Here is his review of “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”.



Mike Finkelstein is terrified about the end of the world.  He’s wondering how things will work out if we all knew that everything was going to end.  However, instead of watching some Michael Bay movies to brush up on the subject (Bruce Willis got out of the oil drilling business years ago), he decided to aim for something a little more…human.  Here is his review of “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”.

PLOT: When it is announced that an asteroid is going to hit Earth in three weeks time, a newly single Dodge (Steve Carell) decides to tempt his fate and seek out an old, lost love to spend the rest of his days with.  With the help of Penny (Kiera Knightley), a young, free spirited neighbor who is also trying to get back to her family, Dodge sets out on his cross country journey, and the two soon come to find that what they are both looking for may be a lot closer than they think.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  The world is ending in three weeks.  What do you do?  It’s a hell of a question to think about…how would you react when you realize that everything you worked for, everything you dreamed of, everything you saved and hoped and wanted and did means absolutely nothing anymore, because you and all the rest of the planet will be gone in the same moment in 21 days?  SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD answers that question, and gives us a beautiful, poignant, and most importantly, human story in the process.

When we first meet Dodge (Steve Carell), he and his wife, Linda, are sitting in their car on the side of the road.  They’ve just heard the news of their impending doom, and Linda, without as much as a peep, gets out of the car and runs away.   There is no joke or punch line.  She just bolts like nothing else matters anymore.  That first moment sets the pace for what ends up being a hell of a study on the human condition.

Instead of watching the same old Michael Bay action epic about the group trying to save the world, we get the other side of the coin.  Yes, we see the expected groups panicking and rioting and (shockingly) leaping to their early deaths, but as there is in any situation (even the apocalypse), we also see the comedy, the drama, and the heart.  There is no regret because everything is out of these characters’ control.  There is no jealousy because everyone is going out together.  And with that comes many different characters with so many different priorities that it reads almost like the ultimate bucket list: find love (long lost or new), see family, go about your daily routine, party and screw day and night, be in charge of your own destiny, survive.  Some hopes/goals are subtle, some are extreme, some are outright mad.  All are human.

What makes the pairing of Carell’s Dodge and Kiera Knightley’s Penny so beautiful within this whole array of feelings is their innocence and sincerity.  Dodge wants to find his long lost love.  Penny wants to get to her family.  What starts out as a hell of an unlikely pairing between two very injured souls becomes a beautiful story of two people who genuinely, out of the goodness of their hearts, want to help each other reach their final goals.  And while we know as an audience that romance will probably (obviously) brew between the two, we’re still okay with going along for the ride.

Carell may usually be the comedian and Knightley the period piece dramatist, but in this world, the roles have seemingly switched.  Just like DAN IN REAL LIFE and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE before this, Carell has proven once again that he is a wonderful dramatic actor.  He plays Dodge with a sense of tragedy, but not without some first-rate, subtle comedy mixed in.  Taking his usually place is Knightley, who has more than enough moments to warm our hearts with her quirks and eccentricity, yet still has enough soul to put a lump in our throat when she talks about her family and being a romantic.  Backing these two up is an equally talented supporting cast, including Patton Oswalt, Rob Corddry, Connie Britton, Martin Sheen, Derek Luke, and an absolutely hysterical group of hippies at Friendsys, and thanks to Lorene Scafaria’s script, all of them have their moment to shine.

If there would be one major complaint I’d have about SEEKING A FRIEND, however, it would have to be with Scafaria’s apparent fear of heading into darkness.  I have no problem with the love story or the road trip aspect, but as we get closer to the end of the world, it almost seems as if those plot points are being used to shield us from the devastation.  At the same time, however (and this goes back to the whole human condition study), the movie isn’t about the actual asteroid or destruction.  It’s about being content with your life and yourself when everything comes to an end.  When you think about it like that, despite the fact that we still crave seeing the devastation (we’re humans…we like watching car wrecks), we realize that maybe it just isn’t necessary this time… 

For years, we have seen the one side of the coin when it comes to Armageddon: how do we save the world in an extraordinary way?  With SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, we finally get a chance to see the more human, soulful side from the group accepting their fate.   Being one of the first writer/directors to really examine such a concept, Lorene Scafaria, has given us a touching, heartfelt story that may not go too deep into the tragedy, but does more than enough to really make us think over the next few weeks about how would we react in the same situation.    


Mike’s LIKES:

1) STEVE CARELL AND KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: Despite their differences in age, Carell and Knightley are absolutely adorable together.  The two bounce off each other like a ying and a yang, especially considering how Carell is suddenly the serious actor and Knightley is the comedienne.

2) FRIENDSYS: This scene completely stole the entire film.  Imagine your neighborhood Applebees filled with some of the craziest employees you could find.  All are completely accepting that the world is going to end, and are almost happy about it!  It’s like watching a group of hippies cheering as their boat is going down…brilliant

2) PATTON OSWALT: Hearing this man rant as he is drunk about all the women he’s had since the world was ending is absolutely hysterical.  I can’t imagine this poor bastard doing anything that he said, but if he is, then more power to him.

3) ADAM BRODY: I remember when Brody was the biggest thing because of “The O.C.”.  He may not be at the heartthrob level he once was, but the guy is showing he could really act by doing parts like this.  As Knightley’s can’t-take-a-hint ex, Owen, Brody reminds us wonderfully just how stupid certain people can really be.

4) WRAPPING IT ALL UP: When you know the world is ending, there are only so many things one could do.  To see the majority of these characters doing something substantial for someone they love is absolutely beautiful and thought provoking.  The real question you leave the theater with is would YOU do the same?

5) ENDING: For a long time, this was on my DISLIKES list, but I could not find an explanation as to why.  And then I realized that while I would have liked to see more, the story being told up to this point didn’t need anything else to fulfill it.  For now, this was the only real ending that I could see fitting on such a film, and for such an artistic ending, I applaud Ms. Scafaria.


1) BACKING AWAY FROM THE DARKNESS: While Lorene Scafaria tells a wonderful little tale of two people trying to fulfill their dreams before the world ends, I feel like there could have been moments that went a little darker.  But then again, this peeve can really go either way, depending on how you take the rest of the story.


1) Steve Carell’s wife in the film, Linda, is played by his real life wife, Nancy.  The two shot their scene together on their anniversary.

2) Lorene Scafaria’s directorial debut.  She previously wrote the screenplay to NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST.


Who Is This Brian Balthazar Guy, Anyway?

Did you see Brian on TV today? Wondering who he is? Here’s much more than you wanted to know. They leave the part out that he loves a well mixed Dark And Stormy, but let’s keep things professional…




You may have seen Brian Balthazar on television this morning, heard him on the radio, or read about some recent developments in the world of media and pop culture. But who the hell is this guy? Brian Balthazar leads a double – triple – okay, maybe quadruple life. Part journalist, actor and comic, he appears on many TV shows as a guest, but is also a developer and creator of several television shows behind the scenes. This when he’s not renovating homes and making snacks for his websites, and

After launching the fourth hour of the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, he turned his attention to cable television, overseeing the direction and development of several shows on HGTV, including Flip or Flop, Love It Or List It, Christina On The Coast, House Hunters, Hit Properties with Nathan Morris, Flea Market Flip and dozens more.

As a comic he served as the opening act for Russell Brand In New York City and the MTV series Man and Wife featuring hype man Fatman Scoop.  He has performed at The Comic Strip, Caroline’s On Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club and more.Wendy Williams Show Feb 2013

In addition to being a frequent guest on “The Wendy Williams Show,” (he co-hosted several times during Williams’ three week break) and appearing on the “Today” show, where he guest co-hosted with Jenna Hager-Bush,  Brian has frequently been seen co-hosting the syndicated TV gossip show Page Six TV.

Additionally, he was the sideline reporter for HGTV’s Rose Parade Coverage, hosted the HGTV Special I Bought A Famous House, and has appeared on CBS’s The Talk, HLN’s Showbiz Tonight, MSNBC’s Caught On Camera, The Joy Behar Show, and more.

Brian Balthazar Kathie Lee Hoda

An appearance on the fourth hour of the TODAY show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

He has also been an emcee for many notable events and sponsors, including work as a brand ambassador for Bombay Company, the co-host of the Miss Tennessee and Miss Mississippi USA pageants, and a red carpet host at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

You may also have seen Brian in some viral videos, most notably a recent parody of Bird Box, and a satirical look at House Hunters’ Writers’ Room.

HGTV – House Hunters Writer’s Room from Buffalo Picture House on Vimeo.

 Brian Balthazar Bombay

Appearing in a series of videos for Bombay Company.


Brian has provided analysis, interviews and helped co-host the Tony Awards backstage show. He also followed all the backstage madness at the launch of Fashion Week in New York City while co-hosting the Red Dress Event. He has been a roving reporter for the Dr. Oz show. Earlier in his career he was a features reporter and contributor on NBC, MSNBC, United Airlines In-Flight Entertainment and more.

For A&E network, Brian appeared in an episode of Biography about Jim Carrey. He also provided play by play of some of film’s greatest car chases for a documentary about, well, car chases. (Ask his family and they will tell you: NO one would have expected to see him in a show about cars. We’ll leave it at that.)


Before ‘finding himself’ professionally, Brian was a singer on a ship, a publicist for a trance medium, an insurance customer service rep, waiter, bartender, activities director, substitute teacher, website programmer, pianist at a camp for spoiled children, and college mascot. None of them worked out. Let’s hope this does.

To contact Brian, email

To check out his video clips from NBC, HLN, and MSNBC, click HERE…

And – become his friend on facebook!

For a more extensive listing of his TV appearances visit his IMDB page.

And he’s apparently getting better about Twitter. So he says. He’s @BrianBalthazar.

Thanks for reading POP GOES THE WEEK!

For his TV Appearances, Click on the TV APPEARANCES page.

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POP in the Kitchen! The Perfect Snack and Cocktail Pairings.



POP Goes The Week’s Brian Balthazar is part of the all new Food Network Kitchen App! Cook LIVE alongside Brian as he makes get party food and the drinks that go perfectly with them!

Hey everyone! I’m so excited for this – I was thrilled to be a part of the new app, which is an all new way to cook with your favorite chefs and cooking experts. In the app, you can get the recipe and ingredients and recipe in advance, check the live class schedule, then cook at the very same time as your instructor!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to do a live snack and cocktail pairing, which you can still watch – and cook along with me! Trust me, these all start out as live, which means anything can happen! (I have an adventure with the broiler in one of them!)

Download the app here.

For my recipes, I made a pulled pork toast with queso, sour cream radishes and green onions, along with a smoky mezcal paloma.

Pulled Pork Toasts with Sour Cream, Queso, Radishes and Green onions, garnished with cilantro. The recipe is literally those ingredients stacked onto baguette slices!

In another class, I make lavender honey that gets drizzled right on top of baked brie with herbs, then use that same lavender honey for my own interpretation of a “Bees Knees” cocktail that I call a “Bees Knees Breeze.” I came up with the variation because the original recipe, simply gin, honey and lemon was just TOO strong for me and I found myself always getting plastered!

Check out the gallery of what I made, all available on the FNK app!

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I hope you can check them out, AND all your favorite instructors like Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis and Ree Drummond!



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‘Saved By The Bell’ Cast Reunited For 30th Anniversary – And I’m So Excited



If you think your high school experience feels like ancient history then it won’t bring you any comfort to know that Saved By The Bell debuted 30 years ago!

Back in 1989, Saved By The Bell hit the small screen and quickly became a television staple. Over the course of its four seasons, the sitcom followed Zach Morris and his unique blend of friends as they navigated the tricky waters of high school. Everyone had a favorite Bayside Tiger and the series spawned many memorable scenes…but you are a liar if you didn’t say your favorite scene was where Jessie broke down crying after coming to terms with her caffeine pill addiction while crying out the most iconic line ever, “I’m so excited…I’m so excited…I’m so…scared”


In any event, some of Bayside’s most memorable students reunited over the weekend to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hit sitcom. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris), Tiffany Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) and Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano) all gathered together to hit us right in the nostalgia. Notably missing were Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and Dustin Diamond (Screech). Berkley wrote on her Instagram “FRIENDS FOREVER!!!” along with some sweet and fun hashtags. Lopez upped the ante and posted a video recapping the fun time the gang had as they reminisced on the days way back when. WHY WASN’T THIS TELEVISED?!? Many are speculating the reunion to be the beginnings of a reboot or revival but nothing of the sort has yet been confirmed.



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FRIENDS FOREVER #spousestoo!!!❤️❤️❤️#imsoexcited #buddybands #love #friends #family #life #magic

A post shared by Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (@elizberkley) on



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Credit card roulette comin up! #OldSchool

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