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Bad happy endings? (Definite Film Spoilers!)


Robot Monkey
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Some talk of A.I. and happy endings made me wonder: Do I prefer sad endings?

 

I mean, I didn't like A.I.'s ending at all (all 45 minutes of it), I prefer the 'downer" alternate ending on the Ronin DVD, and I prefer the interpretation of Minority Report's ending that Cruise's character is still in cryo lockdown, imagining the happy ending. And I love Spirited Away's ending, which, upon reflection, is not a standard happy ending at all.

 

Giving it some thought, I don't think I prefer sad endings to happy ones. What I don't like are endings that seem artificial, crammed on in an effort to have a happy ending. The Ronin alternate ending, for example, struck me as truer to the rest of the movie than the ending they used.

 

Is this the same thinking among any of you who think they prefer sad endings as I did?

 

-j

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I didn't like A.I.'s ending at all (all 45 minutes of it)

 

:lmfao: No argument here.

 

Ramp up for spoilers ;).

 

I think, personally, that I prefer endings that seem to fit the movie. Minority Report relentlessly hammers home the point that the Precogs are never wrong when predicting murders and it would have made for such a better ending in my mind if Cruise's character had actually committed the murder while trying to prove that the system was fallible. Talk about a head trip.

 

Case in point, my favorite movie of all time is David Fincher's Se7en. This movie has one of the best endings ever and it basically starts from the time John Doe gets arrested. And it does not cop out at the end. In a lesser movie, the good guy always resists the urge to become like the bad guy. Not so in this movie. The bad guy dies but he wins in the end. Beautiful. It's a movie about the decay of society, amongst other things, and it drives the point home beautifully.

 

I'm not saying every movie needs a downbeat ending, but if you look like you're heading for one, don't shoot off into something positive that smells like test audience interference. The A.I. ending always smells of this to me, even if Spielburg insists it was originally written like that.

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Originally posted by Robot Monkey@Feb 23 2004, 04:15 PM

Some talk of A.I. and happy endings made me wonder: Do I prefer sad endings?

* snipped *

 

 

Giving it some thought, I don't think I prefer sad endings to happy ones. What I don't like are endings that seem artificial, crammed on in an effort to have a happy ending. The Ronin alternate ending, for example, struck me as truer to the rest of the movie than the ending they used.

 

Is this the same thinking among any of you who think they prefer sad endings as I did?

 

-j

That's what I was trying to say. I don't like the forced, canned, you know it is going to happen, happy endings. Give things a shake up once in awhile and let things flow naturally.

 

 

While I do think it could have been played out a little differently, the pre-ending to X2 with Jean is one of these times. ( The actual ending came a bit later in the movie, so I say pre-ending )

Fans of the comic knew it was going to happen sometime, and I liked the surprise that it came so quickly in the movie series. That kind of shocked me. I thought the movies were still in the " Let's get acquainted " stage.

 

 

Good point about Seven ... I loved that movie and that little twisted bit made it all the better. I was floored.

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I like different endings. I don't like one kind of ending exclusively, but I enjoy it when a movie surprises me at the end, whether it's happy or sad.

 

Even that's not totally true, for example, Bend it Like Beckham had a predictable ending, but it fit the movie well, so that didn't bug me. (I'm just reading Mark's post, where he's saying almost the same thing).

 

What I didn't like about AI's ending is that it seemed desperately contrived and out of place. I thought the movie was over when David was sitting in the police craft underwater in front of the Blue Fairy, it felt over. It would have been a very sad ending with some loose ends, but the story is really very sad anyway, I felt that ending it underwater there would have been appropriate to the rest of the movie.

 

What came afterward seemed like a 90-degree turn, and while it was visually and intellectually fascinating, it felt like a different movie...and a way to force an ending with no loose ends.

 

but it's funny because I still count A.I. as among movies that I like. normally a 'bad' ending ruins a movie, but because the end of A.I. seems to detached from the rest of the movie, I still like it, I just treat the end as some kind of epilogue of additional information.

 

I think the ending to Fight Club was astounding, the unlikeliest of romantic moments possible, I think. It was simultaneously frightening and warm, but it was perfect for the movie, IMO.

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Hmm, difficult to talk about endings of various movies without spoilers... Let me preface this by saying I am going to talk about the movie "Arlington Road"

 

 

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Another good example of a movie that could have copped out with a happy, "heroic" ending, but didn't. And the fact that it didn't, made it stand out in my mind much moreso than any other, typical "hero arrives just in time" type movie. Personally I wasn't crazy about the movie as a whole, but the ending made it memorable.

 

Er, I guess that is actually the exact opposite of what Jay is talking about...not a "Bad, happy ending" but rather a "good, sad ending". Whoops...

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Another ending worth noting is Mulholland Drive (amusingly the second half of the movie is the entire ending). Talk about a head trip, but its done so perfectly that your completely blown away when the "switch" happens. Of course I'm a huge fan of interpretive endings and stories in general. Not to say there is anything wrong with a straightforward point a to point b narrative, in fact if well told they can be highly enjoyable. Though there is nothing better in my mind than discussing and hearing different points of view that relate to a movie which allows itself to be a different experience for each viewer. Another great example of this is Donnie Darko (Truly underrated movie that deserves a viewing if you haven't seen it). We could talk about the time portals in that movie until a plane engine crashes into our room but thats another thread. ;)

 

I do agree with the notion that the ending should fit the movie. One thing that horribly irked me about 28 Days Later.... was the final sequence after the rescue. The movie is very oppresive and certainly the "chipper" finale simply didn't work. There is an alternate ending which changes the fate of one of the major characters and its sad this ending was removed since it really is a much better fit.

 

Keeping with the zombie motif I have to mention the Resident Evil movie. Regardless of the thoughts towards its quality (I liked it!) I thought the ending was very ballsy. The final pullback of the city with Milla, shotgun cocked and ready to rock really goes a long way in explaining why I really have an affinity for RE and why I look forward to the sequel.

 

I think the ending to Fight Club was astounding, the unlikeliest of romantic moments possible, I think. It was simultaneously frightening and warm, but it was perfect for the movie, IMO

 

Agreed!

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Most contrived happy ending I've ever seen was in an old silent movie, The Wind. It's a pretty depressing movie most of the way through, until the last few minutes when the heroine suddenly realizes that she's truly in love with the guy that she'd previously had no feelings for whatsoever. It's hard to describe just how far out of left field it was unless you actually see the movie, but it was definitely a case of a really good film having an ending that doesn't fit at all. IIRC, this was an MGM movie and MGM back in those days was notorious for forcing every movie to have a happy ending no matter how illogical it was :)

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You're all just a bunch of miserable so and so's...... :green:

 

I'm fine with happy endings; I wish we had more of them. I don't like it when they seemingly come out of nowhere mind you and simply feel tacked on. I didn't feel that way about A.I or Minority Report come to think of it, although Minority Report did go a little further than it needed to at the end.

 

I do like an interesting ending of course, in fact I love an interesting ending, but ultimately it needs to serve the scenes that preceded the climax, otherwise an ending can just become a gimmick.

 

It is a fascinating thing when we do often favour the downbeat. Empire Strikes Back anyone? :) When it comes to people knocking genuinely all round nice films I?m disappointed by the growing cynicism. A film like Darabont?s The Majestic, as a fairly recent example, was a criminally ignored film with so many reviews knocking it for being nice. That?s a little to different to what we?re focusing on here mind you. Again, I certainly agree that an ending should be befitting of the rest of the film.

 

Daniel

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since it really is a much better fit.

 

Interestingly, I don't find that to be the case at all. I think 28 Days Later works better with the more upbeat ending, though I couldn't tell you why. Maybe because it feels more fleshed out and full to me, in a way. Hard to describe. Could also be that the characters have gone through the ringer to that point and it felt good for them to get a little something for their troubles.

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I think the ending of 28 Days works because 1) By the end we're ready for some relief from the relentless awfulness of the situation and 2) We anticipated the ending as a legitimate possibility.

 

We know throughout the movie that civilization might've survived outside of Britain. The characters are focused on getting away from the zombie asshats and chilling somewhere safe until rescue. So when it happens it isn't a shock or a cop-out -- just an ending that was true to the story.

 

BTW, I intend to start a rumor that there is a planned sequel starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte called Another 28 Days, with Chris Columbus at the helm. Whoops, I just did.

 

-j

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We know throughout the movie that civilization might've survived outside of Britain. The characters are focused on getting away from the zombie asshats and chilling somewhere safe until rescue. So when it happens it isn't a shock or a cop-out -- just an ending that was true to the story.

 

I of course respect your opinion (and Marks as well. Well ok maybe not Marks but anyway :twisted: ) but I disagree. As Mark said, its difficult to explain but the ending that was used just didn't feel right to me. (though I still loved the movie regardless)

 

Speakinig of great endings though, how about that Cabin Fever? :tu:

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I kind of liked the storyboard ending of 28 days later with the hero strapped to the table, infected with rage, and staring at the bank of monitors. Granted that route changes the whole 2nd half of the movie but it was suitably dark for my tastes. I liked Cabin Fever and the ending wasn't bad, but there was just too much other stuff that made no sense.

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I agree 100% with the notion that these tacked-on happy endings are unecessary. I felt AI should've ended when the kid jumped off the building. Cut-to-black, roll credits. I was amused to hear Salman Rushdie say exactly the same thing on the Lost in La Mancha DVD (he was interviewing Terry Gilliam, who, incidentally, didn't care for the movie either).

 

A classic ending is Seven Samurai.

"So. Again we are defeated."

"The farmers have won. Not us."

Wonderful ending here, our characters are not artificially returned to glory, the young samurai and the peasant girl do not get married despite class and live happily ever after, our hero does not survive. And yet it feels right. The ending is not happy or sad, but both, and right.

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Any ending that is mainly exposition is false to me. I remember seeing Psycho for the first time as a kid and asking my dad why the doctor had to explain all that stuff and ruin the shocking ending and the creepy "I wouldn't even hurt a fly" capper. If only AI had ended with David underwater forever, the movie would have been brilliant. I was so confused by what was going on (aliens? robots?) that I left the theater pissed. Vanilla Sky was a great flick up until the final fifteen minutes when a character had to explain everything for the dumbasses who bought a ticket just to see Tom Cruise. My favorite author is Philip K. Dick, and I had mixed feelings about Minority Report. When the "end" happened, I sat there with a stunned smile on my face, thinking "Steven Spielberg just made a movie with a downer ending that stayed perfectly true to Dick's outlook." Sadly, he had to Spielbergize it (didn't ruin the movie, but it's much better if Anderton is a "victim" of his own devise). Speaking of Dick, what about the butchery that was done to Blade Runner? Shutting the elevator door was a brilliant choice. The shitty driving through verdant fields was neither logical (why does anyone live in those filthy cities if there is all that clean space within driving distance?) nor original (it was footage left over from Kubrick's The Shining--now, that ending is fabulous even if it does depart radically from King's book). I agree with Se7en, what an ending! It's not even shown what's in the box (it's a remarkably bloodless movie), but you just know IT'S HER HEAD! And then Pitt shoots him, as any man would. Other great endings: The Usual Suspects, Casablanca, Fight Club, Planet of the Apes (the original only of course, the remake's sucked), The Thing (how great is that!), Blow Out, and my favorite final scene of all time is from Two Lane Blacktop. If anyone knows what the hell that final shot means, PM me.

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Shutting the elevator door was a brilliant choice.

 

Agreed. The ending to Blade Runner: Director's Cut is perfectly downbeat, just like it should be. I never thought so at first, but upon a couple more viewings it's easy to see that the narration and tacked-on ending really take away from the film. The narration I do miss at times though, if only for the sushi line.

 

The Usual Suspects has one of the best endings I've seen, as it makes perfect sense and in reality is the only logical conclusion, though anybody who isn't aware that a twist ending exists is in for a huge revelation. The subtle shift in Spacey's character as he leaves is just great, he earned the Oscar that year.

 

The Vanilla Sky end may be a bit obvious, but I don't mind it too much since the rest of the movie is fairly obtuse for "mainstream fare". Part of the reason I like the ending though is the Kurt Russell character, who is actually more interesting than Cruise as he comes to realize that he does not, in fact, exist. The look on Russell's face in those scenes is something else.

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BTW, I intend to start a rumor that there is a planned sequel starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte called Another 28 Days, with Chris Columbus at the helm. Whoops, I just did.

But the real question is, will it have Sandra Bullock as a recovering alcoholic? The public demands to know.

 

Another ending worth noting is Mulholland Drive (amusingly the second half of the movie is the entire ending).

Hmmm, one of the most convincing arguments I've seen argued that the first half is in fact very near the ending, while the second half is "the beginning", with with with....

 

Wait. Now I'm confused again. ;)

 

My favorite author is Philip K. Dick, and I had mixed feelings about Minority Report. When the "end" happened, I sat there with a stunned smile on my face, thinking "Steven Spielberg just made a movie with a downer ending that stayed perfectly true to Dick's outlook." Sadly, he had to Spielbergize it (didn't ruin the movie, but it's much better if Anderton is a "victim" of his own devise).

I gotta agree here. At that "end" point, I was thinking "Holy shit, how perfect is that." Then it suddenly became cheesy solve-the-obvious-crime-caper-and-catch-the-bad-guy time.

 

Touching on other random things:

  • Yes, Se7en and Fight Club have kick ass endings (although I feel Se7en gets FC in the end dept., I think FC is overall the better film. I've seen it countless times and I still notice something new each time.)
  • I love the ending of The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly. In fact I love the entire film. If you haven't seen it, watch it.
  • Same goes for Leon: The Professional.
  • The American remake of The Ring suckered me in to thinking, "damnit, they're going with the worthless happy ending", then proceeded to ridicule my bitter prejudices by pulling something worthwhile out.
  • Gattaca. File under "endings done right".
  • I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Memento yet. You see the end at the very beginning, and yet it's still a chillingly well-done twist when the movie actually gets there.

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Good ones, Allen, the ending of The Shining is great. And speaking of Kubrick, what about the ending of 2001? Wow. I think that ending qualifies as good, sad, happy, and WTF. Pretty much covers all the categories.

 

The Shawshank Redemption does seem like it would be a good example of a tacked-on happy ending, but you're right, it really works. Doesn't feel cheap. I wonder why it works when others don't. There's a good excuse to watch it again.

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Gattaca. File under "endings done right".

 

Yes, this is an underrated movie, IMO. I think it's almost more of an old fashioned sci-fi movie...before sci-fi = action flick. Coincidentally, Jude Law is in A.I. and is the principle character in the ending of Gattaca.

 

Another movie that reminded me of 'traditional' sci-fi is Solaris, which totally captivated me...loved every moment.

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The American remake of The Ring suckered me in to thinking, "damnit, they're going with the worthless happy ending", then proceeded to ridicule my bitter prejudices by pulling something worthwhile out.

 

To be fair the Japanese original also did the same and was even worse than the American. In the Japanese original the final scene is of the mother ddriving along a highway with the tape and a VCR in her car whilst on the phone with her father (the sons grandfather) asking him to do her son a "favor". :wtf:

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