Reviews

‘How it Ends’ SXSW Review – Cameo-Filled Comedy Misses the Mark

How it Ends is an end-of-the-world quirky comedy starring Zoe Lister-Jones (who also co-writes and directs).

The film takes place on the day an asteroid is due to destroy the Earth. You would think people will be dealing with this last day on Earth with deep sorrow; instead, they decide to indulge: drug binges, car theft, buying out the entire weed store, and much more.

Then there is Liza (Zoe Lister-Jones) and her “YS”, aka her younger self (Cailee Spaeny), who gets an invite to one last wild party before everything goes down. As they prepare to go to the party, they find out that their car is missing. Now with the clock ticking, they plan to walk to the party and, along the way, tie up loose relationships with friends and family.

Like the 2013 comedy, This is the End, the film focuses on its celebrity cameos which include Fred Armisen, Charlie Day, Olivia Wilde (which is the best of all the cameos in the movie), Bradley Whitford, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, etc. These cameos try and move the story along with interactions that help the main character and her younger self go through the emotions and preoccupations of knowing that it is your last day on Earth. Although it is fun to see these cameos, at times, some of them end up being a bit corny; the film puts too much focus on them, and the story gets muddled and butchered.

On a positive note, Zoe Lister-Jones does embrace her character and fits the role perfectly. Lister-Jones presents Liza as a mix of quirky, frustrated, and palpable. But her performance alone cannot carry the film, and so comes forth Cailee Spaeny, who plays the younger version of her character. They have great chemistry together, bouncing off each other’s lines quite naturally. That chemistry is one of the best aspects of the film as it gives it heart and emotional attachment.

How it Ends screams oddness and quirkiness, both for better and worse. Some of the anarchic humour hits the spot, like Olivia Wilde eating a sugar-filled Oreo cake while guzzling a bottle of wine, and Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis tripping while talking about oral sex and indulging in drugs, all for the sake of their final day being alive. On the other hand, the rest of the humour felt a little bit hollow. It felt improvised.

It wasn’t necessarily wrong to improvise, but the script needed a deeper polishing. It is hard to steer around the film’s meta nature; it tries to unzip insecurities people are having in today’s times. There is a better movie under the disarranged sheets of How it Ends, but the tawdry script, the over-value of its cameos, and the poor decisions story-wise make this comedy film a tiresome and disappointing watch.

Fun Fact:

Zoe Lister-Jones also directed Cailee Spaeny in The Craft: Legacy (2020).

How it Ends
Story
60
Characters
55
Performances
60
Direction
50
Entertainment Value
50
Directed By
Zoe Lister-Jones
Starring
Zoe Lister-Jones
Cailee Spaeny
Olivia Wilde
Nick Kroll
Finn Wolfhard
55

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Hector A. Gonzalez
16 posts

About author
Puerto Rican chemical engineering student with a great passion for cinema and award shows. Deserted Island Movie Collection: Anything with Cate Blanchett. Best Movie Snack: Nachos.
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