“When You Finish Saving the World” is, for better or worse, exactly the movie one would expect from the actor, writer and playwright Jesse Eisenberg: wordy, whiny and self-consciously wry. Adapted from his 2020 audio drama of the same name, this slight debut feature alights on a mother-son dynamic so cringe-inducingly toxic that we can sympathize only with the man of the house (Jay O. Sanders), an academic who exists mainly to complain about his own irrelevance.
And not without reason, when neither his wife, Evelyn (a firmly deglamorized Julianne Moore), nor their teenage son, Ziggy (Finn Wolfhard), bothers to attend his promotion to chancellor. Evelyn’s exhausted-hippie look and teeny-tiny car fit perfectly with her job at a shelter for victims of domestic abuse, where she oozes the empathy and attention she denies her son. For his part, the perfectly named Ziggy (his head is filled with stardust) is a self-involved twit who cares for nothing except nurturing his professed “passion and charisma,” livestreaming his dorkily fervent folk rock to a rapt audience of international tweens.