How It Ends combines a drama about reconciliation before the end of the world and all the eccentric people you’d expect to see getting high before everyone dies.

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How It Ends combines a drama about reconciliation before the end of the world and all the eccentric people you’d expect to see getting high before everyone dies.

Director(s) Zoe Lister-Jones

Daryl Wein

Screenplay By Zoe Lister-Jones

Daryl Wein

Date Released (Sundance Film Festival) 1/29/2021
Date Released (Theaters and On Digital) July 20, 2021
Genre(s) Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Duration 82 Minutes
Rating Not Rated
Noted Cast
Liza Zoe Lister-Jones
Liza (Younger Self) Cailee Spaeny
Liza’s Dad Bradley Whitford
Liza’s Mom Helen Hunt
Nate Logan Marshall-Green
Larry Lamorne Morris
Ala Olivia Wilde
Derrick Bobby Lee
Manny Fred Armisen

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text may contain affiliate links, which, if a purchase is made, we’ll earn money or products from the company.

Film Summary

It’s the end of the world, but for How It Ends, it’s not due to covid but a meteor that, you know, no one is trying to destroy. Everyone has just accepted it’s coming, and they’ll be wiped out like the dinosaurs. With that in mind, Liza decides she will make amends with her best friend Ala, confront her ex Larry, talk to her parents, and a guy named Nate. Someone who is really cute and could have been a good partner for her.

And luckily for Liza, she isn’t alone. Her younger self, which many people can see, but only some acknowledge, is right there with her throughout the journey.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: There are many drug references and people that are high, but no nudity or a notable amount of cursing.
  • Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: YS Liza and Liza’s relationship, as well as a scene between Liza and her mom and Liza and Ala.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

It’s the stress of not being seen that’s endless.
— Manny (YS)

I made a choice today to not set myself up to be disappointed.
— Liza

Cast & Characters

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.


Liza is a coder who suffers from bad dating decisions, anxiety, insecurities, abandonment issues, and the fact the world is going to end.

Liza’s Younger Self

YS Liza is Liza as a teenager before many of the issues that plague Liza as an adult settled in.

Liza’s Dad

Unlike her mom, Liza’s dad stayed, but only in the physical sense. His being distant as a dad is noted as a factor in why their relationship is strained.

Liza’s Mom

Liza’s mom had a sordid relationship with her father, so she left him and Liza behind. However, there is some level of effort to reconcile. It’s just Liza, and her mom feel both sides aren’t necessarily doing enough.


Nate is a really nice guy Liza likes and who is far from her usual type – in the best way.


Larry is Liza’s ex who cheated on her multiple times.


Ala is Liza’s former best friend, who she had a fallen out with due to Liza choosing her boyfriend over Ala, who foresaw her boyfriend to be a trash partner.


Liza’s neighbor, who lets her car get stolen.

Manny’s Younger Self

The younger version of an older man who is surprised they can be seen by Liza.



Liza YS and Liza Present Day’s Relationship

I don’t know your relationship with your inner child, but watching Liza’s younger self (YS), and Liza have conversations, it was triggering. Mainly in the form of you recognizing Liza’s YS was her before she became the person she is. That is the person who accepted men like Larry into her life while they struggled with the Nate types. Who made themselves smaller, quieter, and more susceptible to the compliments and manipulation of others. And to see YS Liza try to push Liza out of this rut and see present-day Liza chip away by noting YS Liza didn’t count? Eventually, it just brought us to tears.

In fact, it specifically reminded us of this tweet:

Mainly because that is what YS Liza is. She is that anger, the regret, every emotion that strives for present-day Liza to be better, do better, and not find another distraction, man, or pick a fight to avoid the work she needs to do. Because the reason YS Liza exists is because how necessary she has become. She is what keeps present-day Liza alive. Especially since, unlike Ala, and many others, YS Liza isn’t going anywhere. She is unfortunately trapped until present day Liza finally owns her s*** – which it sadly takes an apocalypse for her to do.

On The Fence

Some of The Encounters Were Better Than Others

Throughout Liza’s adventure, she meets a whole lot of random people. Some of them, like Ayo Edebiri’s character, alongside Sharon Van Etten, they create memorable moments that were unexpected but welcomed. However, when it comes to most of the cameo appearances, they are lackluster. Be it Bobby Lee, as Liza’s neighbor Derrick, Charlie Day, Fred Armisen, and so many more who seemingly were invited because they wanted something to do than were absolutely necessary for the film.

But even with the people Liza had on her list to speak to, they are also hit and miss. Her conversation with her father and ex Larry, they were ridiculous. Which would have been fine and made sense if it wasn’t for the way YS Liza and present-day Liza could seamlessly go from having dramatic to comedic moments. Alongside if we didn’t see present-day Liza and her mother have a heart to heart which could leave you shaking due to YS Liza. Then, to add onto that, Liza reconciling with her former best friend, Ala, in a scene that just reminds you of how nice it is to see Olivia Wilde in front of the camera again. Mainly due to how she and Lister-Jones vibe and, despite talking simultaneously, have what feels like a real, former best friend conversation.

And it is that inconsistency that makes you sometimes feel that some characters and scenes mess up the movie’s flow and tone. If not, make it so, early on, it doesn’t seem worth sticking with.


Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Comedy is subjective, let’s just preface our next few sentences with that. However, what nearly derails How It Ends is having comedians who seem to be in the film due to availability and their relationship with Zoe Lister-Jones. That is rather than because they actually add something of value to the movie. But, while they present blemishes on a rather good film, none of them are bad enough or memorable enough to take away from Liza’s relationship with herself or when things get real.

Hence the positive label. In How It Ends, we get a nearly perfect doomsday movie that isn’t about saving the world but trying to end your life better than how it was going for so long.

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Some of The Encounters Were Better Than Others - 77%
Liza YS and Liza Present Day's Relationship - 86%


In How It Ends, we get a nearly perfect doomsday movie that isn't about saving the world but trying to end your life better than how it was going for so long.

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