“When You Finish Saving The World” review: Finally a real teenager movie


Courtesy of IMDb

Kloe Witt, Breaking News Editor

After a long, agonizing wait, A24 Productions finally released their new movie “When You Finish Saving the World”, starring Finn Wolfhard and Julianne Moore. 

Personally, I had been waiting for this movie to release for a long while, and it did not disappoint. 

The movie centers around the relationship between Ziggy Katz (Wolfhard), an angsty 15-year-old semi-famous musical artist, and his workaholic mother, Evelyn Katz (Moore). Both of them are caught in their own idea of saving the world.

Their relationship as mother and son is completely severed, which is shown from the beginning. Within the first 10 minutes, the two are already having an argument over Evelyn attempting to open Ziggy’s door while he is streaming a new song for his 20k fans. The argument, which should almost be forgettable due to its simple nature, plays a part in showing how damaged their relationship is. 

Although at first glance, this film could easily be pushed off as another unforgettable movie of an angsty teenager fighting with their parents, it has more of a realness than others that have come before. 

In film, we often see teenagers written in a cringy, barely watchable way. Ziggy isn’t an exception to the cringy teenager character, although he was more authentic. He was an actual teenager.

A24 allowed Finn Wolfhard more freedom with the role, which definitely helped, since now we see a lot of millennials and Gen Xers writing Gen Z roles, and truthfully, it only ends up bad. Allowing an actual teenager to play the character and more freedom helped break teenagers’ mischaracterization. 

Just as Ziggy was written to be unlikable, so was Evelyn. She runs a women’s resource center where she helps women who are in need of escaping domestic abuse situations. She pours her life into her work. She views her job as an ideal way of “saving the world” and openly expresses how she feels her problems are bigger than the issues Ziggy could be dealing with. 

This isn’t the kind of movie where the main characters are the good guys. They’re bad, and that’s on purpose. Evelyn isn’t the best mom, and the movie makes this known. She emotionally neglects her teenage son. In response to their lack of a relationship,  she finds comfort in a relationship with the son of a mother who lives at her women’s help center. She takes him for lunches, like she expressed doing for Ziggy when he was younger, bringing him home-cooked meals, and helping him with college prep.

Just as Evelyn is replacing her relationship with Ziggy with another character, Kyle (Billy Bryk), Ziggy is also replacing his relationship with his mother with a girl he met at school, Lila (Alisha Boe).

While Evelyn’s infatuation with a teenager the same age as her son is an obvious use of the underlying meaning, Ziggy’s relationship with Lila is portrayed more in the Freudian style. He appears to have a crush on Lila and feels the need to impress her as a cry out for attention, much like his cries out for his mother’s attention. This is seen with him trying to become more politically correct and his constant bragging about his 20k followers online. 

Another thing that I feel really helped with the production of this film was the use of social media- specifically through Finn Wolfhard. 

Leading up to the show, Finn did a “Ziggy take over” on his Instagram, where he posted and interacted as though he truly was the character. Throughout this, A24 also released the music Ziggy Katz sings throughout the movie. 

The movie’s music also aided in furthering the story. It wasn’t good, and that was the point. His music was his emotions. They were his cries for help. Production allowing Wolfhard, a celebrity who does write and perform his own music, helped to make Ziggy seem more realistic. 

They also sold an audiobook, which was read by Finn Wolfhard. In it, he acted out the character just as well as he did in the movie. It was emotional and heart-wrenching.

The movie was relatable for a wide variety of ages. You got to see both the good and bad of Evelyn and Ziggy. Production did an amazing job at helping the audience view both characters for their bad and their good qualities, as well as making them relatable for the demographics they reflected. 

One thing that I was on the fence about during my first watch-through was the ending. Ziggy left school and went to his mom’s work building after a hard rejection from Lila. As he was arriving, Evelyn was in her office watching old YouTube videos Ziggy had posted when he was younger after facing rejection from Kyle. Evelyn walked out of her office, and she and Ziggy turned and stared at each other, and then the movie ended. 

On my first watch, I felt this movie should’ve been a little longer. I was wishing for some kind of certain reconnection of the two. However, after more consideration, I felt this ending was perfect. 

Throughout the entire movie, Ziggy and Evelyn were fighting for the same thing without realizing it. They were both longing for that relationship with one another but couldn’t communicate it well. This ending was a mutual understanding. It was them both breaking down and realizing what they needed all along. It concluded the story perfectly. 

The acting was wonderful, and so was the production. It was the perfect mix of comedy and heartfelt emotions. The only thing stopping it from being a solid 10/10 was that there were a few scenes in the movie I don’t think were necessarily needed.


“When You Finish Saving The World” is now available on Prime Video.

Illustration by Ariel Landry
Illustration by Ariel Landry