The End of the Tour

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The End of the Tour Movie Poster Image
Brilliant, intuitive, mature look at a unique friendship.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Though there's no obvious moral, there's plenty to think about in terms of celebrity, journalism, writing, friendship, and loyalty. The film also touches briefly on issues of addiction and suicide.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No clear role models, but teens interested in pursuing a writing career may be interested to get a glimpse at a successful novelist and a successful journalist.

Violence

Reference to suicide.

Sex

References to masturbation, sleeping with anonymous female fans during a book tour, and oral sex.

Language

Uses of "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," and "butthole," plus "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism

References to McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, Pepsi, M&Ms, Pop Tarts, and Topol (the smoker's tooth-polish).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters regularly smoke cigarettes. Use of chewing tobacco. Drinking beer in a social setting. References to drinking, snorting cocaine, and using heroin.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The End of the Tour is a superb, mature drama based on a 1996 interview between reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel). There's a reference to suicide and some very strong language ("f--k," "s--t," etc.), plus several sexual references (to masturbation, anonymous sex, oral sex, etc.), though no actual sex is shown. Characters smoke a lot of cigarettes and drink socially; cocaine, heroin, and other drugs are also referenced but not shown. Though the movie is talky, it's also intelligent, subtle, and profound, touching on topics like celebrity, journalism, writing, friendship, and loyalty (as wel as, briefly, issues like addiction and suicide). Teens interested in pursuing writing as a career will find plenty to think about here.

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What's the story?

In 2008, Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) hears about the suicide of author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel). He remembers back to 1996, when he stumbled upon Wallace's game-changing novel, Infinite Jest, and convinced his editor to let him write a cover story on its author. The two men spent five days together at the end of Wallace's book tour, covering topics ranging from fame and literature to fast food and Alanis Morrisette. In their time together, they seem to grow closer, but the business of the interview always intrudes. Perhaps in other circumstances, they could have been close friends, but for now it's up to Lipsky to decide how to portray this fascinating, complex artist.

Is it any good?

An expert at potent, intimate character dramas, director James Ponsoldt tops himself with this brilliant, intuitive examination of a unique working friendship. Working from an adapted screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies, THE END OF THE TOUR creates uncanny intimacy and subtle tension between two men, both writers but hardly equals.

Scenes of direct questioning can be revealing, but the downtimes -- i.e. talking about food or smoking -- are especially powerful. Other scenes deconstruct the interview process and the strange dynamic between an interviewer and his subject. Though Segel has the showier role, he and Eisenberg are evenly matched -- and exemplary (with a hilarious Joan Cusack in a small role). The movie's situation may not be familiar to many moviegoers, but these two actors explore complex connections, making the experience a profoundly human one. It's a great journalism movie -- and a great movie, period.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters' heavy smoking. Does it make them cooler? Deeper? Is it any more acceptable because the movie takes place in a different time?

  • How does the movie portray fame and celebrity? Does it look appealing or unappealing -- or is it more complex than that?

  • How does the movie depict journalism? Does it look like a fun job? An important job?

  • Do the characters become friends in the end, or is their relationship too complicated? Do you have "complex" relationships with certain friends?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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