While the pandemic continues to roll on, with hopefully some semblance of an end in distant sight, we all sit confined to our homes. Longing for walks, friends, restaurants, and any number of other, let’s just call them luxuries because that’s what they’ve become. During this time, there have been a few attempts at making content that would either be in reflection of the times we live in or using the times we live in as a springboard for empty streets that give the give an air of unease as we see the vacancy of somewhere like L.A., a city defined and beholden to auto traffic.

Shows like This is Us have used the past year to soberly look at race relations, the pandemic, and how we as Americans are beginning to cope with this time. While filmmakers like Michael Bay have produced films like Songbird and Doug Liman directed Lockdown, both films that have been met with resistance as we trudge onwards in this insufferable living history.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Now comes the pandemic shot end of the world comedy from Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein, How it Ends. The pandemic isn’t exactly mentioned, but it’s nearly impossible to not sense the responsibility the filmmakers felt. Every scene except for a brief opening, is outside, on patios or abandoned streets, or in the hills above the city. As a comet hurtles towards earth, the main character of Liza (Zoe Lister-Jones) is accompanied on a day long walk around the city by a younger version of herself (Cailee Spaeny). The two trek from one house to the next seeing friends or stopping in the street to talk to a stranger doing standup comedy to the empty streets.

While the world faces imminent destruction, Liza seems to be pretty okay with that fact at first, but as the day drags on she begins to confront people from her life, but more importantly confront herself. Every new scene is a meeting with another famous person, presumably filmed on their patios as Liza stops in to check on them or discuss some past turmoil.

I’m a firm admirer of bootstrap filmmaking that tries to punch above its weight class and transcend the limitations of a minimal budget. This is almost the exact opposite. As each successive cameo roles onto screen there is a sinking feeling of wishing that movies weren’t this easy to make nowadays. The entire thing plays like sketches of scenes loosely tied together. Yes, seeing actors like Helen Hunt, Bradley Whitford, Olivia Wilde, Lamorne Morris, and several others, stop in for a few minutes has a seeming joy from the outside. But this drags on for an interminable 82 minutes and feels like it was probably pretty fun to just walk around L.A. and shoot low stakes scenes with your friends.

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