Stream it or skip it?
Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein how it ends — now on Hulu, having secured a limited theatrical release in July 2021 — calls itself a “feel-good doomsday comedy,” which, you know, ha ha ha? Lister-Jones also stars as a lonely woman trying to resolve a few interpersonal issues in the 24 hours before a meteor tears the Earth apart, killing all of its inhabitants with hideous explosions and fires, falling rocks and miscellaneous. geophysical upheavals and stuff like that, we guess. Making matters even stranger, the film was shot on depopulated streets of Los Angeles during the pandemic shutdowns, which could explain why Lister-Jones’ character never even kisses his mother on the last day of the planet. being not completely on fire – which only adds to the abundant eccentricity (deep breathing) of the film (exhaaaaaaalllllllllle).
HOW IT ENDS: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The essential: Liza’s (Lister-Jones) (Cailee Spaeny) younger self drags her out of bed, makes her a towering stack of pancakes and pours her a nice glass of maple syrup — the good kind, not just the fructose crap of Butterworth. Yes, herself younger. Usually, Liza is the only one who can see and interact with Young Liza, who looks like she might be 13 or 14, but it’s an inexplicably special day when others can do the same. It’s unlike any other day in the sense that it’s the last on Earth as I and you and everyone we know know it, as a fiery ball of space rock blasts through the sunny blue skies of California, on the point of murdering billions of people and probably all mammals and fish and insects too. We imagine it would be lame and not very fun, but we probably prefer not to imagine it.
Today, young Liza will help her make amends with some people as best she can – ex-boyfriends, a distant former best friend, her parents – before saying goodbye to all existence as she is. that we know her. party, where she plans to get high and eat food until she vomits. They go outside to see that Liza’s car has been stolen, so they will have to walk. They meet a guy named Gary (Nick Kroll) who has taken over the local dispensary, but gives them some of his weed because hell is so close. They visit their dad (Bradley Whitford) and mom (Helen Hunt) and an ex (Lamorne Morris) and the friend (Olivia Wilde) she lost because she warned Liza about the aforementioned ex, and jokes around with the occasional stranger on the street, including Jet (Sharon Van Etten), who sings a nice song, a comedian (Ayo Edebiri) who tells no one jokes, a guy who reveals he’s the newly unseen young self to an older man (Fred Armisen), etc.
Notably, everyone here is pretty jaded about being force-fed armageddon by a cold, cruel god or universe. There is neither anguish nor despair. They’re so funny about it, having seemingly come to terms with their fate and come to the conclusion that this sunny day should be enjoyed – except maybe that guy who says the meteor is a hoax, to which Liza responds , hey, don’t you believe in science, and then he replies that science is bullshit. Either way, all of Liza’s encounters are (deep breath) quirky (exhaaaaaaalllllllllle), and one has to wonder what, if anything, she’s accomplishing here.
What movies will this remind you of? : Melancholy and You and me and everyone we know.
Performance to watch: Spaeny – which we saw in Eastown Mare and Developers – grounds this tongue-in-cheek flick by playing the key role with a bit more seriousness than the rest of the cast.
Memorable dialogue: Liza: All my life I’ve been terrified of dying alone, and tonight I’m literally dying alone.
Young Liza: You are not alone. You have me.
Liza: You don’t count. You are metaphysical.
Sex and skin: The fact that we don’t see the people in this film crumble at the end of the world is because during the near-apocalypse of the real world, an actor getting too close to another actor would have violated COVID protocols.
Our opinion : OK, maybe that’s not fair, the thing about the effing. Liza’s goal isn’t to get some just before/while existence goes kablooey, although it wouldn’t be so bad if she enjoyed a physical rejoinder with that hunky ex she astronomically blew it with , and we meet him flipping his luscious hair and holding an adorable little puppy in each arm. His goals are a different cliche from the leap into eternity cliche; maybe she wants to find a scrap of happiness before being cremated. Who can blame her? Although the real closure seems to be a myth, its quest is a noble one.
The problem with how it ends, however, goes beyond its meandering, episodic structure, which is essentially a small-scale parade of celebrity cameos. The characters’ flattened response to near-immediate death feels like a heavily calculated whimsical irony. The basic idea is fun – saving the world is pointless, might as well dive into your navel and find a little personal truth – but the execution is a bit monotonous and never elevates funny situations and interactions into big laughs.
There’s a scene in which Liza and Young Liza come across a road sign that usually said DO NOT ENTER but instead says YOU ARE ENOUGH, and Liza jokes, “It’s a bit on the nose.” It’s the most self-consciously (deep breathe) quirky (exhaaaaaaalllllllllle) moment in a movie full of self-consciously (deep breathe) quirky (exhaaaaaaalllllllllle) characters, though Hunt’s turn as a mother with regrets is her most grounded and emotionally realistic. Such self-awareness works best when Liza realizes that she just needs to reconcile with young Liza, that living with herself and accepting herself is perhaps more meaningful than any attempt to right the wrongs of the past – you know, you do it and the rest will work out on its own, even though you and the others will soon cease to exist. It’s the heartfelt and meaningful core of a movie that’s otherwise full of people just falling apart until they’re just plain dead.
Our call: STREAM IT, because how it ends has just enough fringe charm to keep it afloat. But maybe wait until it’s free on a streaming service before you pay $10 for it.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. To learn more about his work, visit johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.
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