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Monday, April 13, 2009

Everybody Loves a Happy Ending

Some months ago, Frank rhetorically asked why Americans want happy endings in movies. My response was something along the lines of, "unhappy endings make people think." Now, I'm not the type that loves unhappy endings, but sometimes, an ending that makes you think is better than an ending that doesn't make you think.

Over the weekend, I took in my first screening of The Last American Virgin. All I had heard was that it was a good 80s movie and the soundtrack was great. Judging by the way most of the movie went -- which reminded me of Zapped! and Fast Times at Ridgemont High -- I wasn't expecting the ending of the movie to be the real ending of the movie.

Basically, just when you think the hero gets the girl he's longed for, she goes back to the guy that dumped her when she got pregnant. We're left hanging and have to come to our own conclusions about what happened to our hero afterwards. Now, I won't lie, I found the ending of the movie deflating at first, but I kept thinking about the ending for the rest of the weekend. I figured our hero was better off not ending up with a girl who would do that. Such is life.

But "real life" doesn't always make for the most commercially viable material for a mass audience. I get that, and I prefer movies to have some form of resolution at the end. Chasing Amy might not be the easiest Kevin Smith film to watch from start to finish over and over again, but when I can stomach the real life lessons (and shouting matches) in it, I can watch it without hesitation. But if I had the choice of watching Swingers or Chasing Amy, I'd take Swingers.

Movies with abrupt, semi-sad endings can be like watching a relay race where all the runners run off the track in opposite directions fifty yards before the finish line. You've taken all this time investing time and emotion into the players, fully expecting for a finish line to be crossed. Yet no finish line is crossed. Not crossing the finish line feels like you've been duped, and moreover, let down.

Again, I prefer some kind of resolution, whether it's happy or sad. But preferably, upbeat.

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