‘Ezra’ 2024 Ending Explained & Movie Recap: What Happens To Max And Ezra?

Let me get this out of the way first. Tony Goldwin’s Ezra can be perceived in two distinctly different ways. You may take it as a story of a well-meaning but reckless father endangering his autistic son by kidnapping him. Or you can see it as a desperate father trying his best to save his son from the big bad world. The film leans very much towards the latter; but it also doesn’t totally dismiss the other one. That has a lot to do with the fact that Ezra stems from its writer Tony Spiridakis’ own life experience in bringing up his autistic son and also the ending of his marriage. This has brought a certain gravitas to the screenplay. There was every chance of Ezra ending up overly sentimental, given the history of the portrayal of autism in cinema hasn’t been particularly great. I’m not saying Ezra is completely free of tropes. Certain plot points are predictable, which sort of brings the whole thing down. But even then, it pretty much soars – mainly thanks to the writing and the performances of a stacked cast led by a fantastic Bobby Cannavale.

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Spoilers Ahead


What Happens In The Film?

Down-on-his-luck standup comedian Max Bernall (Cannavale) is co-parenting ten-year-old Ezra with his ex wife, Jenna (Rose Byrne is great in everything, and I’m glad the character is not written as an uptight person). Thanks to his professional career having taken a nosedive, Max has no choice but to live with his no-nonsense father Stan (Robert De Niro sleepwalks through the role). 

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Ezra is autistic and his parents are having a conflict over putting him in a special school. Jenna thinks her son would fare well at a place specifically made for him, while Max wants Ezra to continue at the regular school, so that he can learn the ways of the world. Unfortunately for Max, he’s issued a restraining order saying he can’t see his own son; thanks to a scuffle with a doctor. In his defense, the doctor wanted to put Ezra on Risperdal, and Max was absolutely against it. But the law doesn’t allow Max to be the kind of parent he wants to be, and despite being on good terms in general, his ex-wife is not in his team for this one. In fact, it’s her current boyfriend Bruce (director Tony Goldwin himself), a lawyer, who helps Max get out of jail. Bruce is no good though, he does have every intention of cutting Max out of Jenna and Ezra’s life. In fact, Ezra’s accident (following which Max had his rumpus with the doctor) happened only because he snuck out of the house in order to warn his father about the “threat” that Bruce poses. Anyway, it’s heartbreaking for Max to not see his son and accept Ezra has to go to a special school. Hence, he has no choice but to get Ezra out of Jenna’s middle of the night and embark on a cross-country road trip. Stan is obviously against this ludicrous idea, but Max has made up his mind.


Where do Max and Ezra go? 

I’m not sure if it was intentional to have Rainn Wilson playing Nick, Max’s best friend, living in the countryside, running a (sort of) farm; but The Office fan in me couldn’t be happier! His appearance is brief, but Wilson makes every second count. The character, and the plot point is generic as hell though. Where else would Max go other than to his eccentric best friend who, like his son, might be on the spectrum (even this is a reference, if you go by The office fan theories of Dwight being autistic)?

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Other than a little hiccup with a metal fork, Ezra gels quite well with Nick and Senegalese nun Margaret, who’s living on the farm and about to take her vows. There’s a slight hint of romantic possibilities between Nick and the nun, but Nick is a Greek Orthodox (could have been German, just saying) and not exactly the kind of man who would want relationship. Meanwhile, Max is not completely rudderless. He’s in fact going to LA as his agent, Jayne (Whoopi Goldberg is sadly wasted here) has managed to book him on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. And how can Max go there without Ezra tagging along? Just like Stan, Nick is also not fond of this whole idea of “kidnapping your son and going straight to a comedy show” but for Max’s sake, he gets on board with it. 


Why Is The Police After Max?

I like how in this film Jenna is shown as a regular worried mother trying to deal with her erratic ex-husband randomly abducting her son. For sure she doesn’t want to harm Max, but she doesn’t have much choice but to bring in the law here (I’m sure Bruce has some influence here, though). Stan is absolutely livid with Jenna involving police in the matter, but in her defense, he was constantly trying to avoid her before. Anyway, Stan is aware of Max’s whereabouts (he’s not a fan of Nick, who once stole his saucepan), and seeing Jenna in such agony, he proposes they get on the road and go after the father and the son. Max, meanwhile, has a moment of self-doubt when his car breaks down and Ezra has a sudden episode. He starts questioning his ability as a parent, and also his decision to embark on this journey. He even ends up calling Stan in the middle of the night, which is an indication of how terrible he actually feels about the whole thing (given he doesn’t share that kind of a relationship with his father).

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What Happens To Max and Ezra?

While Ezra never explicitly goes into why (or how) the kid is autistic, there’s enough suggestion that he got it from his father and grandfather. There are signs of both Max and Stan being on the spectrum. There’s even a scene where Stan mentions it to Jenna, although she doesn’t think the father and son are responsible for Ezra’s condition. It’s also wonderful to see that despite her marriage with Max failing, Jenna continues to stick with the family. The film also doesn’t hesitate to draw a direct comparison between Jenna and Max’s mother, who left abruptly when he was a kid. Jenna believes that is one of the reasons for Max turning out to be how he is. Well, the man does have a lot of parental issues going on. His mother abandoned him and he believes his father blames him for that – how would you expect him to grow up all healthy and fine?

I was very curious about how Ezra would end – either in a very wholesome Little Miss Sunshine manner (I wouldn’t have minded) or in an utterly sentimental, very tragic manner where Max loses his battle against the world. But by its third act, the movie makes it very clear that it’s not gonna go either way, and stick to the basics. As a result, we get a very unexpected Vera Farmiga cameo, (as Max’s old friend Grace) and guess what – the moment Ezra sees Grace’s house, he mentions to Max that it seems like a demon movie just waiting to happen inside it. That has to be intentional, right? (Farmiga is in The Conjuring franchise, in case you’re wondering) Ezra and Grace’s daughter strike up a beautiful friendship, the boy gets to pet a horse and Max can’t be happier, seeing his son doing so well. When the local sheriff knocks at the door, Grace, Ruby and Ruby’s friend help Max and Ezra get away in Grace’s vintage car. 

Soon after, Stan spots Max and Ezra at a diner near a parking lot. He doesn’t tell Jenna about it, and asks her to wait at another restaurant. And then Stan not only goes to meet Max, he surprises Max (and I guess the audience as well) by telling him how proud he feels, as he’s actually trying to be there for Ezra and not hesitating to go to extremes. Stan also makes sure to tell Max that it was him who’s responsible for his wife leaving, and not Max. Yeah, I know I said De Niro sleepwalks in his role but he absolutely crushes this scene and you understand why the director would take an actor of his caliber here.

Ezra‘s ending is dramatic, yet it’s surprisingly toned down. Max does get to LA and Ezra makes more movie references (it’s really cool that the kid is pretty much a pop-culture nerd) after seeing all the stars (the most famous one belongs to Tom Hanks). But just when Max is about to make his mark on the Jimmy Kimmel stage, the FBI arrives on the scene. Well, Jenna and Stan also arrive at the same time. Jenna asks the police to not arrest Max, but they’ve gotta follow protocol. But in a pretty miraculous fashion, Ezra goes absolutely bonkers and tightly hugs his father to save him from all the terrible things in the world. This is particularly significant given the boy has a touch aversion and also because for the entire film, Max was the one who was trying to protect his son. In what I consider the epilogue, we see Ezra going to school. Yes, he now goes to the special one, and Max seems to be okay with it. Jenna and he are also on good terms, although we’re unsure about what happened to Bruce. As the credits roll, we get a little bit of Jimmy Kimmel as well, who even jokes about Max getting arrested last time he was on the show.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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