When did movies start doing away with the happy ending?
I mean it seems like every movie I watch now ends with either everyone dead or the main character crying. It was not always that way.
Since I don't want to spoil the movies for anyone who hasn't seen them, I will not name the movie but give a few brief synopses of the endings I have watched recently:
A father kills his entire family when he thinks there is no escape from the protagonist pursuing them. After shooting everyone in his family and right before he turns the gun on himself, he learns that the authorities have swooped in and neutralized the threat.
In another movie I watched, a man murders one of his childhood best friends because he believes the man killed his daughter. As the ending unfolds, the man is told that the police have captured the real killers. The next person to visit the man is the wife of the friend he murdered. The man proceeds to tell the man's upset wife that he believes he ran off with a stripper.
The final movie I watched that did not believe in happy endings involved a police officer attempting to track down a violent serial killer. After many brutal murders and a physically and psychologically draining pursuit, the police officer succeeds only to find out that the final victim of the killer was his young, pregnant wife.
Is this the state of movies today? Is this what we as a society want to watch?
I much prefer the hero saving the day at the end. Or the athlete winning the contest after intensive training and some setbacks. Or the couple finally getting together after many comical complications and giving each other the long waited on kiss.
We need happy endings more than ever. We need to see that life works out and that with continued effort and maybe a few taps of our ruby slippers we can win.
We need to see innocent Andy escape from jail and be joined in Mexico by his friend Red.
We need to witness Zack stroll into the factory in his dress white uniform and sweep Paula off her feet and carry her away.
We need to get misty eyed when we watch Jerry deliver his heart felt "you complete me..." speech in front of a bunch of angry women. Then see Dorothy interrupt him with - "you had me at hello" - and the embrace and kiss that follows.
Perhaps most importantly we need to know that Clarence got his wings when we hear that bell ring.
That is truly great cinema. It builds us up and makes us feel good.
Do yourself a favor this weekend. Watch your favorite childhood movie that gave you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
It will be exactly what the Dr. Doolittle ordered.