Thursday, May 20, 2010

And They Lived Happily Ever After?

There's nothing worse than an unsatisfying ending to a movie.  Okay, there are a lot of things worse, but an ending that doesn't give you a good payoff for the turns, spins, peaks and valleys of a movie -- just leaves you unsatisfied. 

It's like when someone serves you a slice of strawberry shortcake.  It looks so pretty with its whipped cream icing and plump strawberries.  You can't wait to take a bite.  But when you bite it, all you taste is a stale mess.  Now you've got strawberry juice dripping from your mouth and a stain spreading on your brand new, white silk blouse. 

I know what you're thinking.  We can't expect every movie to always have a happy ending, but it would be nice to have a hopeful one or at least one that makes sense.  Last weekend, I saw Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married Too?"  

I loved the first one.  Satisfying ending ... definitely, I was already writing the sequel by the time the credits rolled on the screen.  I couldn't wait to see the sequel.  It was supposedly set three years later, but it felt more like three months later.  

(Why Did I Get Married Too?)

I didn't see any growth in the characters (except for one couple) and maybe that was the whole point of the movie.  Of course, this is purely a subjective view.  I don't want to give away the movie for those who haven't seen it yet. Unfortunately, the ending left me deflated and not wishing for another sequel.

On the other hand, Tyler Perry's "Madea's Family Reunion" took you on a domestic roller coaster ride that gave you a satisfying ending and floated you away on a "Happily Ever After" cloud. 

There can't always be a happy ending, but the ending should be a climax for the events of the movie.  Some may watch it and say it was.  But for me, the ending seemed too easy. It didn't make sense.  I guess there was a glimmer of hope.  

I'll use this analogy to describe what would've made the ending more satisfying for me.  When you get a boo-boo, you put on a band-aid.  Once it starts to heal, you rip off the Band-Aid so it can breathe and finish healing.  Everyone sees the yucky sore for a little while, it's not pretty, but then it heals and disappears.  Only you know your boo-boo was there.
There are two consequences.  Either you'll no longer wear those stilletoes that made you fall in the first place and created the boo-boo.  Or you'll learn how to walk in them. This approach would've made the ending in Why Did I Get Married Too?  more satisfying to me.    

(Because I Said So Cake)

Often symbolism help give you that satisfying ending.  The above black & white polka dot wedding cake with red rose buds played a symbolic role in the  the movie, Because I Said So starring Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore.  

Growing up, how many times have you heard your Mom say, "Because I Said So?"   That many.  If only I had a dollar for every time, you would be calling me Joan B. Trump.  That infamous response by parents to squash a child's question easily becomes a battle cry when the questions don't stop in a timely manner."  

Just the title alone tells you this is a family dramedy.  You'll discover from the first scene that it's a grown baby daughter vs. controlling mama drama.  Daphne (Diane Keaton), the mom, doesn't think her youngest daughter, Milly (Mandy Moore) can find Mr. Right on her own, so she secretly places a personal ad.  

(Because I Said So Fashion)

Mom wears her favorite black and white polka dress when she interviews potential son-in-laws.  Out of her three daughters, she believes Milly's the most like her and tells her this every chance she gets.  Of course, Milly thinks they're night and day.  Did I mention, they're both in the food business?  Daphne is a baker, Milly is a caterer. 

Daphne buys Millie a  red and white polka dress and insists she wears it to an event she's catering the next day.  Daphne doesn't know that Mom arranged for her chosen Mr. Right, a wealthy architect, to show up there.  He gets Milly's attention when he compliments her on the polka dot dress.  

Mom stops by her apartment before the date with Mr. Right and is shocked to see her wearing the polka dot dress again and Mr. Wrong at the door.  He's the guitarist Mom vetoed at the pre-screening interview.   

Throughout the movie, all of their boo-boos get bandaged and aired out for healing.  And then we get a satisfying ending where the boo-boo is barely visible.  You see, while Daphne's looking for Mr. Right for her daughter, she finds a Mr. Right for both of them. Daphne, in turn, finally accepts with new eyes that she is her mother's daughter  and she's okay with it.  Ah!  Satisfying.  Don't you love it!   

(Edge of Darkness)

A satisfying ending can also mean a sad ending.  In Mel Gibson's 2010 thriller, Edge of Darkness about a cop, Thomas Craven, who investigates his daughter's murder, a contracted hit by her employer.  Emma Craven is first poisoned with Thalium after drinking organic milk and shot to death when Dad tries to rush her to the hospital.  

His dead daughter who guides him through dreams and his imagination.  He also drinks poisoned milk to flush out Emma's killer.  Hand-in-hand, Father and daughter are victorious at the end.  At the end of Edge Darkness, we leave with faith that good will always take the upper hand. When I watch thrillers, I need to see this kind of ending. 

Yes, we live in the real world, but can't we enjoy a hopeful-ever-after escape now and then?  

(How Stella Got Her Groove Back)


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