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Best Movies With The Worst Endings

post #1 of 173
Thread Starter 

What movies still manage to be good overall despite a genuinely weak ending?  

 

This is a common enough problem with comedies (hey there Stripes) that have to impose some sort of half-baked plot on a looser framework at the last minute, which ends up not being as fun as the shaggier riffing from before.  So I would reserve the comedy examples for those that unravel completely and focus more on dramas, where a bad ending is much harder to overcome.

 

Sunshine is a big one for me.  It is marred somewhat by the need to introduce a villain for the end even though the movie had managed to be a terrific thriller without one (no mean feat) for the fist 2/3rds.  And things get a little esoteric at the very end, which doesn't bother me overmuch, but I can see how it is sort of an awkward fit for the movie that precedes it.  Still, that movie that comes before is incredible, enough that I still recommend it as a good movie.  But it would be a classic with a better ending.

 

Batman Begins is another, although that third act has been beaten to death around here.  It still a solid three stars in my book based on the first half.

 

Recently, Silver Linings Playbook really soured for me at the end as it abandoned all the serious, messy issues it raised in the body of the film in favor of typical romcom claptrap.  A big dance-off is how you save the rec center from becoming Old Man Petersen's boat house, it's not how you overcome legitimate mental illness.  I think if I could recalibrate my expectations and approach it as a simple romcom it would come off as a very good one, but I would've preferred to see all of the David O. Russell movie that the first hour promised. 

post #2 of 173

The Mist REALLY falls apart for me in its final moments.  I'm harped on this before with most people disagreeing with me, but it's just such a comical series of kicks to the groin that its bleakness felt more like a parody.  But everything in the supermarket is so great that I still love the film wholeheartedly.

 

I think it's more in the execution than in any particular fault of its intent.

post #3 of 173
Thread Starter 

The Mist ending is fantastic in concept, but a bit wonky in execution.  I wouldn't say it's terrible, but understand the sentiment.  

 

Forgot to mention Collateral, which is sort of the drama equivalent to my complaints about Silver Linings.  When things devolve to a straight up shootout, it's not that it's a horrible example of one, but it's not nearly as interesting as the philosophical thriller that preceded it.

post #4 of 173

Lincoln

 

The clumsy, needless, tone-deaf inclusion of the assassination. 95% of the film is about how a group of powerful individuals grapple with a question that will affect the lives of untold millions. Yes, Lincoln is the core person here but that final 5% of the film makes a hard right turn into biopic territory. It's jarring & betrays much of what the film had so gracefully accomplished.

It's like watching All The President's Men & then seeing the final 5 minutes cover Bob Woodward's messy divorce.

post #5 of 173

Ditto on both Collateral and Lincoln, gentlemen.

post #6 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post

Ditto on both Collateral and Lincoln, gentlemen.

 

Ah sh*t, don't get me started on Collateral...

 

I've said it dozens of times here but that final shootout is really a failure in staging. Had Jamie Foxx been laying on the ground with his gun pointed UP toward the cabin door to hopefully catch the blinded-by-rage Cruise with a shot in that split second before he looks down, it would've been a perfect film.

post #7 of 173

 

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If LA Confidential would have ended right here instead of with the pointless epilogue showing Bud White alive it would have been a better movie.

post #8 of 173

Interesting. I actually really, really love that moment at the car between Ed & Bud. That look they give each other, man.

 

"Yeah"

 

All 3 main cops (Ed, Bud, & Jack) were people who were granted a certain power in their city & they had all initially became cops for the same reason: to do some good. The arch conflict was that Jack had forgotten that & was warped by the inherent power trip being a policeman provided him; Bud had become too comfortable with the abuse of that power; and Ed was the ill-fitting idealist who had yet to be corrupted.

That final moment, in many ways, is the point of the movie. In a city where the abuse of power was the status quo & the idea of "justice" was arbitrary, these two policemen survived a crucible in order to stay true to that small, singular idea that they'd both held in their deepest core - the simple idea of "doing some good in a world that needs it".

That moment between Bud & Ed was their joint recognition that that was indeed what they'd done. They were brothers-in-arms who - in a city that did everything to discourage & disallow it - finally "did some good". They were true policemen.


Edited by Art Decade - 12/23/12 at 7:06pm
post #9 of 173

It's not really a bad ending the way it is, I just think if it would have ended at the shootout it would have preserved the tone it had going for the rest of the movie. 

post #10 of 173

Speaking of movies featuring Jamie Foxx that had bad endings, Law Abiding Citizen needs to mentioned.

post #11 of 173
Thread Starter 

It has to be a good movie despite the bad ending for these purposes.

post #12 of 173
Sound of my Voice: Having just finished watching this I am....perplexed as well as frustrated. So so good all the way through and then ends leaving so many threads hanging and somehow the writers hope for a trilogy...doesn't work and makes the good work done count for nought.
post #13 of 173
I feel strongly that Mills should have committed suicide at the end of Seven. Wrath ultimately is self-destructive.
post #14 of 173

Super 8 had me until the last 15 mins before it turned into a complete dumpster fire.  I don't think I can even go back.

post #15 of 173

THERE WILL BE BLOOD is nine tenths brilliant but something about the ending always left me cold, almost comical.  The tone feels wrong and I wrestle with it when I watch.  Maybe it's me. Still love it... but....

post #16 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Hallorhan View Post

THERE WILL BE BLOOD is nine tenths brilliant but something about the ending always left me cold, almost comical.  The tone feels wrong and I wrestle with it when I watch.  Maybe it's me. Still love it... but....

 

You're not alone. It's difficult to explain but Plainview's characterization in that leap into the future is seriously just wrong-headed.

 

I never understood the thinking that throughout the film, Plainview was evil & wicked. He was the only (relatively) honest person in the fucking movie and he he had reason to hate every person he'd met because they were all greedy liars (the Preacher, the oil men, the townspeople who were arguing over themselves). Not only that, but he raised a hired hand's infant son when he didn't have to. Sure, doing so had some selfish intent but it was mutually beneficial. Point being that the final 15 minutes treats D.P. like the villain he never really was & removes ALL ambiguity about the character & just says, "From here on out, there is no ambiguity. It's black & white: Daniel Plainview is EVIL. The End".

Fucking lazy.

post #17 of 173

post #18 of 173

Lethal Weapon 2. Riggs gets shot more times than Alex Murphy, yet miraculously survives and gives up smoking.

post #19 of 173

Hahaha...Goddammit, I'm outta rep.

post #20 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Decade View Post

Hahaha...Goddammit, I'm outta rep.

 

You're not outta rep until I tell you. You hear me, Art? You're not outta rep until I tell you...

post #21 of 173

THE REF

 

Brilliant, hilarious movie, but it kinda cops out with the ending.  I'd like to see the original ending sometime where Gus gets caught by the police.

post #22 of 173

CASTAWAY.  Some really great moments and a fun emotional ride that ends... meh.  Not quite the 'ending' but it's all bad after Tom returns home. 

post #23 of 173
I'd disagree about Castaway. I feel like it was showing that he was completely untethered from his old life and that he finally had something else for which to hope. Plus, Chasing Amy wins this thread. I don't know how it holds up today, but I really enjoyed it up until the threesome request. So bad.
post #24 of 173

DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE. Despite the basic premise being ripped off from DIRTY HARRY, it successfully ups the ante, delivering as an exciting sequel until it stupefyingly misfires and cops out at the end. I'd rather watch HOSTAGE.

post #25 of 173

THE AMERICAN. Just a terrific tone piece, with a great, quiet performance by Clooney. Beautifully shot, with a lot of understated or wordless melancholy. That ending, though...

 

Not just Jack dying. OK, it's a truism in movies about hitmen that there are very few retired hitmen. Fine. But car drive and the butterfly in the air at the very last shot...fucking awful. I would have preferred the character to live, myself, but even if he goes, we can do without the hammer-on-the-nose "symbolism."

post #26 of 173

MICHAEL CLAYTON. This is kinda like There Will Be Blood in that it's a cool ending that doesn't really work with the film it takes place in. If Clayton would have taken the money it would have played like the morally ambiguous 70's-style thriller it wants to be. 

post #27 of 173

hmmmm I have to think about that.  I DO love MClayton, but I see your point.

post #28 of 173

Interesting point about Michael Clayton but I gotta disagree.

 

There was no moral choice in the end for MC to make. Swinton tried to KILL him & he took her out for revenge. Not to save the rec center or whatever. She slipped & tried to kill the one guy who would have taken the money. So fuck her.

The whole point of the final shot is that MC has suddenly found himself on the morally just side for once and he's coming to terms with a life potentially free of the crushing moral vacuum that had been his life up to that point.

 

The film is a "70's-style thriller" in a cosmetic sense moreso than a core thematic one.

post #29 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Decade View Post

Interesting point about Michael Clayton but I gotta disagree.

 

There was no moral choice in the end for MC to make. Swinton tried to KILL him & he took her out for SURVIVAL Not to save the rec center or whatever. She slipped & tried to kill the one guy who would have taken the money. So fuck her.

The whole point of the final shot is that MC has suddenly found himself on the morally just side for once and he's coming to terms with a life potentially free of the crushing moral vacuum that had been his life up to that point.

 

The film is a "70's-style thriller" in a cosmetic sense moreso than a core thematic one.

 

 

Fixed! And .....agree!

post #30 of 173

Yes, much better. I knew there was something off about that particular word.

post #31 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Decade View Post

 

You're not alone. It's difficult to explain but Plainview's characterization in that leap into the future is seriously just wrong-headed.

 

I never understood the thinking that throughout the film, Plainview was evil & wicked. He was the only (relatively) honest person in the fucking movie and he he had reason to hate every person he'd met because they were all greedy liars (the Preacher, the oil men, the townspeople who were arguing over themselves). Not only that, but he raised a hired hand's infant son when he didn't have to. Sure, doing so had some selfish intent but it was mutually beneficial. Point being that the final 15 minutes treats D.P. like the villain he never really was & removes ALL ambiguity about the character & just says, "From here on out, there is no ambiguity. It's black & white: Daniel Plainview is EVIL. The End".

Fucking lazy.

 

 

To me it's not really about whether he's evil or not.  He's wretched.  He was wretched from the first frame, pulling himself up out of the ground and dragging himself across the desert with singular determination.  After he kills Henry, he sits in an almost apocalyptic looking setting, the last possibility of a human connection fading like the dying embers of the fire.  He's all ambition, with a withered little soul.  He has a direction for that ambition, but with nothing left to conquer, he just sits and stews in alcohol and rots until he has one final, volcanic spasm.

 

ETA- Oh, and I find nothing off-putting about the comic elements of it.  It was bleakly funny, in the same kind of a way that Kubrick can be.  "I drink your milkshake!" is purposely over the top and absurd, and "I'm finished" is essentially a punchline.

post #32 of 173

Hmm, interesting. Then I think, perhaps, it was the film's execution in portraying the evolution of his grotesque alienation that feels so jarring. The visual transition between eras is neat but there just seems to be a step missing in portraying DP's slide into that rotten decrepitude.

And I gotta disagree that he's wretched from the first frame. I understand how one could see that though. To me. in the beginning, he's just a man. Not wretched, not greedy, just a man who only has himself to rely upon in the world. And then that man finds himself in a terrible situation where he must drag himself across a desert to survive. His internal motivations aren't explicitly stated to be evidence of a personal hunger for money, greed, & empire.

 

Throughout the film, I see DP as that same little man striving for survival & a measure of prosperity. Human connection and those few people whom he might have connection with are all proven to be corrupt & vile. The idea that DP's perpetual rejection of human connection is what lays the foundation for his lonely, apocalyptic ending just rings false & unearned to me. Throughout the film, it's shown that he is surrounded by greedy assholes. Vile dogs that would eat each other rather than strive as he had to do. That's why he hates the Preacher so much. The end of the film portrays DP to be a sociopathic villain as if he had been his entire life (more or less). And he wasn't.

post #33 of 173
I've always thought the film The Americanization of Emily could have been a companion piece to Dr Stranglove had it's ending not completely defanged it's satire.

I think there are many people who haven't seen this classic because they are turned off by the title of the film which sells it as a romanic comedy and not an anti war satire. in the movie a Navy Rear Admiral has a nervous breakdown causing him to make a crazy order. He wants the first man killed on D-Day to be someone from the US Navy so he can use the death to champion how important the Navy's role has been is in WWII.

If the film had ended after it's climatic scene, it would have had some serious bite, but instead it continues and goes for the "happily ever after" ending which blunts it's message considerably.
post #34 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Decade View Post

Hmm, interesting. Then I think, perhaps, it was the film's execution in portraying the evolution of his grotesque alienation that feels so jarring. The visual transition between eras is neat but there just seems to be a step missing in portraying DP's slide into that rotten decrepitude.

And I gotta disagree that he's wretched from the first frame. I understand how one could see that though. To me. in the beginning, he's just a man. Not wretched, not greedy, just a man who only has himself to rely upon in the world. And then that man finds himself in a terrible situation where he must drag himself across a desert to survive. His internal motivations aren't explicitly stated to be evidence of a personal hunger for money, greed, & empire.

 

Throughout the film, I see DP as that same little man striving for survival & a measure of prosperity. Human connection and those few people whom he might have connection with are all proven to be corrupt & vile. The idea that DP's perpetual rejection of human connection is what lays the foundation for his lonely, apocalyptic ending just rings false & unearned to me. Throughout the film, it's shown that he is surrounded by greedy assholes. Vile dogs that would eat each other rather than strive as he had to do. That's why he hates the Preacher so much. The end of the film portrays DP to be a sociopathic villain as if he had been his entire life (more or less). And he wasn't.

 

Your reading seems to put the onus on humanity for the way Plainview is.  As if he's essentially as contemptuous of them as they deserve.  I don't see that.  They may not deserve more than that, but that's not why he's contemptuous of them.  He's that way because that's his nature.  That singular determination, that drive is what makes him able to rise to such great heights while others fight over scraps; but it's also the seed of his destruction.  He's not the little engine that could, he's more of a runaway locomotive.  But I always come back to the volcano analogy because I think it's kind of the perfect metaphor for him.  He can level everything in his path while potentially enriching the soil for things to sprout up in his wake.

post #35 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Decade View Post

Interesting point about Michael Clayton but I gotta disagree.

 

There was no moral choice in the end for MC to make. Swinton tried to KILL him & he took her out for revenge. Not to save the rec center or whatever. She slipped & tried to kill the one guy who would have taken the money. So fuck her.

The whole point of the final shot is that MC has suddenly found himself on the morally just side for once and he's coming to terms with a life potentially free of the crushing moral vacuum that had been his life up to that point.

 

The film is a "70's-style thriller" in a cosmetic sense moreso than a core thematic one.

I used to think that he should have taken it at the end, but I think you swayed me.

post #36 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bailey View Post

 

Your reading seems to put the onus on humanity for the way Plainview is.  As if he's essentially as contemptuous of them as they deserve.  I don't see that.  They may not deserve more than that, but that's not why he's contemptuous of them.  He's that way because that's his nature.  That singular determination, that drive is what makes him able to rise to such great heights while others fight over scraps; but it's also the seed of his destruction.  He's not the little engine that could, he's more of a runaway locomotive.  But I always come back to the volcano analogy because I think it's kind of the perfect metaphor for him.  He can level everything in his path while potentially enriching the soil for things to sprout up in his wake.


The volcano analogy is definitely sound. I agree with that. But since the film explicitly details DP's negative opinions of people in general while simultaneously portraying just how those people are greedy & dishonest, I'd say that the way DP is has quite a bit to do with his interactions with humanity.

For example, his long-lost "brother"(?): so a complete stranger comes to DP saying that he's family. This character is the first person DP meets whom he might be able to trust & relate to in a human way without him being on a payroll. And DP opens his entire life up to this stranger freely. This means that DP CAN connect with people in a warm human way IF they prove themselves to be open & trustworthy. Therefore, since he IS capable of that, the onus is absolutely on humanity. When it is proven that the stranger is false, DP sees how dangerous it is to let people "in". He was prepared to give the stranger the keys to his castle & trust him with his life, but that betrayal just reinforced that doing so threatens his survival. And that, more than anything, is what DP is: a survivor.

post #37 of 173

He made a halfhearted attempt, way too late, to kindle some spark of humanity with a con man, only to snuff it out along with that con man.

 

I'm not saying it's completely a one way street, but I don't buy Plainview is just so unlucky as to never have met someone willing to connect with him that is worthy of his good opinion.  What about his son, who he uses as a prop, and then eventually comes to resent when he wants to strike out on his own?  No, for me the onus is definitely on Plainview.

post #38 of 173

Overall, I'd say that it's a mixture of both. That his negative opinion of people is born both from his experience & his bitter prejudices. My point here is really that he is - above all else - merely human. Not a natural born monster blinded by ambition. I'd say that his bro-affair with the con-man wasn't half-hearted at all. The con-man received all the heart DP that had to offer - and that came wrapped in tepid & brittle caution.

 

The thing about using his son as a prop? You're damn right he uses him as a prop, but doing so is to their mutual advantage. Without DP, the kid would've died in the desert or been relegated to a Dickensian orphanage. He isn't abused or mistreated by DP & the film shows later that DP truly cares about the kid when he sends him away. Being used as a prop to an upstart oil man while also earning the best education that oil money can buy ain't a bad deal.

 

I also think that DP's resentment has everything to do with abandonment. The son is doing to DP what DP had done to him as a child. And both abandonees lashed out in fits of violence when the other left them.

post #39 of 173

I don't think he's purely a monster, but I think that ambition is, in part, a kind of monster living inside of him.  I don't believe there's any kind of clear answer when it comes to nature vs. nurture, the point is the film presents Plainview as a man with a very particular personality, and I don't see much evidence it's saying he desperately tried to be a different way, and the world rejected him.  It's not that hard to have a happy, normal life.  Daniel was not that way. From the film's eerie, almost mythical opening, it was as if PTA was asking us to think of Daniel as someone who came from below the barren landscape. A subterranean dweller.  Almost like Gollum, if he'd gone on to become a titan of industry.  I don't think it meant to depict what we'd call an ordinary man, certainly.

 

And I don't disagree using his son as a prop was to their mutual advantage, but does that make it okay?  Does that explain why he couldn't find a stronger, more fulfilling connection with him?

post #40 of 173
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Decade View Post


And I gotta disagree that he's wretched from the first frame. I understand how one could see that though. To me. in the beginning, he's just a man. Not wretched, not greedy, just a man who only has himself to rely upon in the world. And then that man finds himself in a terrible situation where he must drag himself across a desert to survive. His internal motivations aren't explicitly stated to be evidence of a personal hunger for money, greed, & empire.

 

Throughout the film, I see DP as that same little man striving for survival & a measure of prosperity. 

 

 

His motivations are explicitly stated to be greed and desire to see his enemies driven before him (part of the film's point being that capitalism encourages men to view the whole of humanity as their enemy).  And his survival and prosperity are never threatened after the opening sequence.  He's a rich man and would remain a rich man even if the con man and Eli got everything they wanted from him.  All that is threatened is the empire.

 

Also, (good) parenting is not a "mutually beneficial arrangement".  Yikes.

post #41 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post

 

His motivations are explicitly stated to be greed and desire to see his enemies driven before him (part of the film's point being that capitalism encourages men to view the whole of humanity as their enemy).  And his survival and prosperity are never threatened after the opening sequence.  He's a rich man and would remain a rich man even if the con man and Eli got everything they wanted from him.  All that is threatened is the empire.

 

Also, (good) parenting is not a "mutually beneficial arrangement".  Yikes.

 

"Ah, fair enough" on the first point.

 

"Give me a break, that's hardly what I was saying" on the second.

post #42 of 173

A. NIGHTMARE. ON. FUCKING. ELM. STREET.

 

Bear in mind that I'm only talking about the awful "Freddy's still alive!" bullshit. I actually love that Nancy is able to overcome Freddy and restore all her friends to life. It completely fits with the rest of the movie.

 

The epilogue is absolute, jump scare studio mandated crap, and everyone knows it.

post #43 of 173

Naw, Craven admitted they didn't know how to end it, but going out on a CARRIE note works.

post #44 of 173

I heard differently, that Bob Shaye wanted sequels after testing, and Craven hated the idea.

post #45 of 173
Good Will Hunting: It totally was Will's fault.
post #46 of 173

The epilogue in Matchstick Men is so completely tone-deaf, saccharine, and stupid, retroactively hurting a terrific con man movie adapted from a great book(The book ends like the movie without the epilogue.)

post #47 of 173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Elvis View Post

DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE. Despite the basic premise being ripped off from DIRTY HARRY, it successfully ups the ante, delivering as an exciting sequel until it stupefyingly misfires and cops out at the end. I'd rather watch HOSTAGE.

 

It does feel like a re-shoot ending but it works a little better than the odd and anti-climatic "McClane tracks down Simon and makes him blow himself away with a bazooka" alternate ending that is out there.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Spider View Post

I heard differently, that Bob Shaye wanted sequels after testing, and Craven hated the idea.

 

Craven hated Shaye's original idea, which was literally putting Freddy behind the wheel.  The ending used was a compromise.  Craven wanted it ending with Nancy winning but this was what he got.  I actually think it works but I have sort of a different philosophy when it comes to horror film endings than Craven apparently does.

post #48 of 173

Not that it was a terrible ending or anything, but I would have liked another X-Men movie with Magneto, Xavier, and Mystique all on the same side before going with the status quo.

post #49 of 173
The ending of "Nightmare on Elm Street 2" is pretty much the same as the first film, but way more effective, I think.
post #50 of 173

PSYCHO. As Roger Ebert puts it:

 


"For thoughtful viewers, however, an equal surprise is still waiting. That is the mystery of why Hitchcock marred the ending of a masterpiece with a sequence that is grotesquely out of place. After the murders have been solved, there is an inexplicable scene during which a long-winded psychiatrist lectures the assembled survivors on the causes of Norman's psychopathic behavior. This is an anticlimax taken almost to the point of parody"

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