A sweet and humorous (if not exceptional) doomsday comedy.
I’m terrified about the world ending, as much as you are. As I share this review of “How It Ends,” I will not be accepting any comments like “You know it’ll happen some day” or any kind of teasing about that. If you comment on my website or on Facebook in that fashion, I will immediately delete or hide these comments. The only comments I will accept are whether or not you agree with me or if you plan to see this movie.
This is when you say: “Then why are you watching this movie?” Despite my delicate constitution, every once in a while I see something in these movies. In recent examples, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” made me sick at the end, while “This is the End” made me laugh. I prefer rapture comedies compared to astroid comedies, but somehow “How It Ends”actually worked for me. It was co-written and directed by the real-life married couple Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein, whose other collaborated projects include “Lola Versus,” “Breaking Upwards,” and “Consumed.”
On her own, Lister-Jones previously directed the sequel “The Craft: Legacy,” which she guided young actress Cailee Spaeny, and now, they reunite as the older and younger versions of the main heroine, who is trying to find solace in her life.
An astroid is set to collide with Earth at 2am, and while Liza (Lister-Jones) prefers to wallow around in her own misery, her younger self (Cailee Spaeny), whom she doesn’t count as her BFF, tells her to go to a party hosted by Pauly Shore’s new girlfriend (Whitney Cummings). That’s when she wants to find some romance, and the man she wants to admit her love to is her ex-boyfriend (Logan Marshall-Green), whom she feels bad for letting go. En route, they have to visit a few important people, consisting of her estranged parents (Bradley Whitford and Helen Hunt), her old BFF (Olivia Wilde), and the ex she loathes (Lamorne Morris).
Other characters they come across also include a Negative Nancy (Bobby Lee), a loner who lives in a tent (Nick Kroll), a street comedian (Ayo Edebiri), a street singer (Sharon Van Etten), a nice guy (Fred Armisen), a sex therapist walking in his speedos (Paul W. Downs), and there’s a confrontation between a pro-recycler (Rob Huebel) and an anti-recycler (Paul Scheer). There’s also a little mix-up with a man (Colin Hanks) giving her girlfriend a scavenger hunt, as well as real-life married couple Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis playing stoners who sound like they’re crying, but they’re cool. And the one background character who gets more screen time is a mysterious figure who keeps following them (Glen Howerton).
We see the astroid presented in the form of a tiny painting in various parts of the film, and these characters don’t really seem to care if they all die. Even the pro-recycler believes that’s just a hoax. That or the astroid would burn up before it lands. They never really said how big it was other, besides the time. I always hope it’s just a hoax or it burns up.
There’s barely any pedestrians out on the streets for obvious reasons based on different perspectives. In the movie’s world, the reasons would either be suicide or underground bunkers, but in our world, it was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lister-Jones and Spaeny both portray the main heroine (remember they’re both the younger and older versions) with a deadpan fashion, while Lister-Jones gives “How It Ends” a sweet personality without showing us the obligatory looting, news reports, and suicides. The best cameos come from Wilde, Hunt, Kroll, Morris, Edebiri, Day, and Ellis, who all cut back on the mass market entertainment values, and give them sentimental and humorous aspects. After all, it is an independent film, one that runs for about 80 minutes.
Other than its conclusion, the movie doesn’t feel like much like an apocalypse film, and it’s quite relaxing to me. It feels more like people are living their lives to the fullest, and that’s inspiring. Again, I’d be terrified this happened, but seeing this movie made me more comfortable. Lister-Jones and Wein both paint it that way with the right intentions.
In Select Theaters and On Demand Tomorrow