• #19
    Aug 27, 2006

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    Bob BarkerIt’s as uncomfortable and predictable as Bob Barker telling you to spay or neuter your pets: the Hollywood ending. And, apparently, directors have watched too much Price is Right.

    I’ve seen three movies in the past week that appeared to have just come from the veterinarian. Each ending stunk. Each represented a different kind of Hollywood vasectomy.

    The Pre-ending Ending: You, Me, and Dupree
    The way this movie ended should have been the way the movie ended. But before we could see the jabbing, almost-predictable finish, we had to see an awkward seen in which Molly and Carl reunite and imply the start of a sex scene in front of a street full of children.

    We didn’t need this to be wrapped up this way; we didn’t need loose ends tied. If we did, then why didn’t we need the plot to tell us how an unemployed bum came up with the resources to remodel a fire-damaged house or color photo copy scores of wanted posters. Show us the out takes of unsuccessfully trying the serious and sappy scene during the credits; show Owen in the street cheering a tie on the door; or don’t show us anything.

    Elf suffered from this fate, as did Dumb and Dumber. Do we need kumbaya scenes? Do we care if things worked out? Don’t we know that it probably did? Is there a way to imply the forgone conclusion? Can we lightly hit the idea then bounce cinematically north into the credits like Bourne Identity and Ocean’s 12 or just jump to a Bonds-esque celebration of predictability? I’ve always been a fan of the Italian Job/Sandlot/Rudy delineation of consequential lives.

    The Late Ending: Talladega Nights
    Usually these are sappy, sophomoric endings, just like five NASCAR family misfits hugging and jumping into a banged up Chevelle with a junkie to head to Applebees. Half the time, the movie should have ended with the previous scene (or earlier), like Beauty & the Beast and Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

    50 First Dates got this right, as did An Unfinished Life and Roman Holiday. So did Disney’s animated Jungle Book.They didn’t need anything chopped from or tacked onto the end. But it’s a tricky balance, as evidenced by the successful close of Sleepless in Seattle but not of You’ve Got Mail. Both Sabrina versions got the scene right but the lines wrong. Starsky and Hutch should’ve ended with, “I’ve got your nine iron right here.”

    Nobody does it worse than pulp chick flicks, even Hallmark movies. That’s why Steel Magnolias and The Notebook stand apart from their peers. And just steer clear of He’s the Man and other movies that are bound for the Disney Family Channel. Remember the Titans and Radio endings get a free pass, because they are based on true stories. We want happy endings for real people. That’s why Hoosiers is a classic but Air Bud isn’t.

    The Setup Ending: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
    I like the hanging ending—think there should be more of them. But the episodic “cliffhanger” is too easy on the trilogy/sequel wrap. It’s not a MacGiver or Alias episode, folks! It’s a movie. It should stand on its own. It shouldn’t need to be purchased in sets or by geeky worshippers.

    This movie did it better than Spiderman and Batman Begins. That Joker introduction should have interrupted the credits. Fantastic Four made you wonder, just with too much mooshy crap. Ocean’s 11 is the epitome of how to do it. Let the subsequent movie start the next story. Is that too hard?

    As you can tell from my samples, (1) I haven’t seen a lot of movies and (2) I have a sucky memory. I can’t even remember how some of my favorites end. Maybe that only seconds my motion that Hollywood needs to go back to finishing school—or at least a few less showcase showdowns.

    This entry was posted on Sunday, August 27th, 2006 at 11:00 pm and is filed under Random Acts of Ryan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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