Monday, August 22, 2011

MONDAY MUSINGS: Endings The Good And Ugly


Ever read a good book or see a good movie with good characters and the ending sucks?

My husband and I watched Country Strong. Good actors, conflict, music and then splat. I thought, oh, come on. You can’t be serious—after all that, someone is going to walk away from a contract like this? Right. Wait a minute, a comeback like this and she goes into her dressing room and does what? Please.  I don’t care how good the rest of the movie was the ending ruined it all for me. It made me mad because it could have been excellent. I couldn’t figure out why it bombed at the box office—until the ending and then I understood.

My husband and I had quite a discussion regarding endings.

There are some movies I watch because I like the actor/actresses and usually they don’t act in crappy movies. Until recently any Nicolas Gage movie was one I watched. Now, I’m a bit more careful to look at the storyline first because of the next two movies.

City of Angels. Great cast, love Meg Ryan and Nicolas Gage, which is why I decided to watch it to begin with. Good premise. After all the two of them went through, she dies? Really? Major suckage. Had it been a book I would have thrown it across the room in disgust.

Then there was Knowing. Trailers looked good, actors were good, and lots of action (my kinda movie) and then the movie went to hell the last ten minutes. I felt robbed.

There are certain books that do the same. Nicolas Spark’s books. The Notebook was reasonable given the history and time frame. I’m not saying he’s a bad writer but I don’t like his style of telling a story. I really tried to read his others but ugh—ditto with the movies, excellent though the cast was. His books are not only no, but hell no. (Yes, I’m sure there are those who just love stories like his.)

The way I see it, and this is my opinion and my preferences only, when I see a movie or read a book, I want the bad guys get their asses kicked and the good guys win the day. If one of the main cast of characters has to die, make it count. Give me a reason. Even ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances can be heroic though they die. A good example of that, in my opinion, was the movie Independence Day. The Randy Quaid character died. Another one was Armageddon, Bruce Willis is a main character and he sacrifices himself for his daughter’s sweetheart. Okay, I would have preferred them to remain alive but their deaths were logical and in line with the sort of characters they were. Their deaths counted. The good guys still won.


Evil loses, good wins. Yes, I know it’s not always the reality in life, but if I want a heavy dose of reality, I’ll turn on the news or read a newspaper. And please, don’t give me an ambiguous ending—which happens in some movies and literary pieces I’ve read. I don’t mind drawing my conclusions but at least make the ending positive enough so I can at see the hero or heroine is on a better path after all they’ve gone through

For me, no matter how good the book or the movie if the ending doesn’t deliver and isn’t satisfying, why bother? No, it doesn't have to be all sunshine and butterflies, but I like a good finale. I don’t want it rushed and slapdash and I want it to fit the strengths of the characters the author/writer has created.


  • What about you?  What are your thoughts on endings? What makes an ending good in your opinion?

25 comments:

tonya said...

I have to tie up the ending. I have to have the HEA! When I write or when I see a movie. If a movie doesn't deliver I'm disappointed and sad. As a writer, I don't feel like my novels are finished for the reader if I left it sad...undone. I think readers read to escape. There are several writers who do this. Especially in the Indie world where I am a part of. I read a lot of Indie books so I can support my peeps, and read a lot of different endings. Some work, obviously, because these authors have made several best sellers lists, and hanging in the top 100 paid kindle store, which is fabulous. They are mainly thrillers, but I'm just not that way. I have to tie them up!

Jo said...

What about the classic ending, Gone With the Wind?

I too expect the goodies to win and the baddies to get their come uppances. I read for escapism not for reality. You are so right, if one wants realism turn on the news.

Stephen Tremp said...

I prefer happy endings where the bad guys get back more than they deserve and the good guy gets the girl. That's just me. I need happy closure.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I want good to win as well! "Knowing" was such a let down - almost everyone on earth dies. Well, that was fun!

GABixler said...

I wholeheartedly agree! There have been less than the fingers on one hand of books where I have been able to accept a different type of ending...for me, like you...if I want reality, I'll stay in today's world of horrors...

Karen Walker said...

I feel exactly the same way you do about endings. I was totally upset after seeing Country Strong. But I guess, in a way, it's also realistic. I just don't like realistic so much when I go to the movies. I want escape and I want to feel satisfied at the end.
Karen

Sun Singer said...

Sometimes, I get ticked off long before the ending. We decided to watch THE AMERICAN on satellite. It stars George Clooney and on the info-grid, it had four stars. Nothing was happening. Too bored after 1/3 of the movie to bother with the rest of it.

Malcolm

James Rafferty said...

My preference is a logical ending, one that fits the plot and, if applicable, the genre. That doesn't always mean happy -- it might be bittersweet or ironic -- but I dislike it a lot when the writer (or whoever is pulling the strings on a movie tries to get clever or manipulate the reader / viewer.

~Sia McKye~ said...

@Glenda, it has to fit with the rest of the story. Aye sure, I'm all for some surprises and a few unexpected twists in a conclusion, but not 180 degree turn from where the writer was leading me.

@Karen, go out in a blaze of glory sort of reality? Even that doesn't feel right. Exactly, Karen. Movies and books are entertainment and I want to feel good afterward.

~Sia McKye~ said...

@Malcolm. I hear you on that. There are quite a few movies husband or son bring home to watch, or we choose from movie channels, that I give it a try. If it doesn't my interest, forget it.

Conversely, there are movies I can watch time and again, even knowing the story and ending, and enjoy them just much on the repeat.

~Sia McKye~ said...

@Jo, oh, I didn't like it either, even though she deserved it. I can remember discussing it with my mom and deciding alternate endings, lol!

@Tonya, in romance, by god there had better be a HEA. There can be a few tragic incidents leading up to the conclusion, but I want that HEA.

~Sia McKye~ said...

James, I don't have a problem with bittersweet or ironic so long as it fits the story and there is some positives.

I don't like the penchant of some to *cleverly--oh, lets toss this in, they won't see that coming manipulation.*

My thoughts exactly Alex. Blech.

Anonymous said...

LOL!!! Her first movie, City of "bloody" Angels, was the one that came to my mind!!! If an angel falls and becomes human for you, wear a friggin' helmet and don't cycle down bloody mountain roads with your eyes closed!!!

Derna Schwab

Anonymous said...

That was really good! I can think of several books that I could cheerfully throw across the room!

Cindy Marchant

Other Lisa said...

Pretty much what James said!

I read to escape, yes, but not to escape difficult subjects or ambiguous situations. I read to be transported by literature, whatever the story or style. I want to be surprised, I want to be moved, I want to enjoy the the skill with which the story is told, the beauty of the language.

I'll take anything but boring.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lisa, movies and books are escape and if done correctly do transport you to another place and time. They give refreshment to the spirit. I don't avoid difficult subjects (although I do pick and choose) or the ambiguities in life, but I want to see some resolution, something positive as a result of the the characters'journey. I don't like to be left hanging or superfluous manipulation.

Kat Sheridan said...

Oh, now see, I LIKED City of Angels. Yes, I was mad at the time, and cried, but still, I like it. And I'm often pleased with endings that aren't wrapped up in pretty bows. I like the ones that days later are still haunting me as I speculate and define my own ending. I like the ones that leave open other possibilities. I even liked the ending of Gone With the WInd for that reason.

However, the men who wrote the ending to Casablanca need to be taken out and smacked. A wrong ending is far worse than an ambiguous one.

Enid Wilson said...

I agree with you. But some producers like to make a tragedy from every movie. I prefer stories with happy ending.

Every Savage Can Reproduce

Talli Roland said...

Ah yes, you're SO right about City of Angels! I remember being majorly annoyed at the ending of that one.

Sheila Deeth said...

My husband likes endings that tie everything up. I like to be left still thinking and wondering. But neither of us likes endings that feel falsely happy.

Dana Fredsti said...

It's funny 'cause I hated Armageddon so much from the get-go that I couldn't appreciate Bruce Willis's character's sacrifice. From the moment he started shooting at Ben Affleck on his on oil rig... stoopid. And the countdown to zero at the end... why couldn't they have given him a last quiet contemplative moment with the knowledge he was sacrificing himself instead of that idiotic action cliche? But yes, generally I completely agree with you on the subject of good movies/bad endings!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Sheila, not everything has to be *tied up* to make it a good one. While I like to see the main characters'central drama resolved. The ending doesn't have to be completely wrapped in a neat package. There can be secondary issues left a bit open ended--I tend to think on those bits too.

I recently read an excellent book. The main character faces some horrendous issues which causes some psychological trauma. There's no way a person can come out of a situation, as he faced, with a sunshine and butterfly ending.

He gets the central issue solved, wins the girl and the day but the author didn't give him a neat little package of HEA. She gave him more of a work always in progress happy and the reader is aware of unresolved issues he would probably always have. And that was fine--I understood the two main characters were on a better path. Excellent ending to an excellent book. But I'll tell you, I still find myself thinking about the whole book--lots of layers for that.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Enid, you're right. There was a space of time when that seemed to be *the* way and honestly, some of it felt contrived because it took a divergent turn to accomplish the tragic ending.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dana, *a shocked in-drawn breath and sputtering* you hated...say it ain't so! lolol!

Okay, so I like kick-ass, brash, smart mouthed characters (I know you won't hold that against me, lmao!) Actually, I've personally known a couple of men like Willis' character. Conflicting emotions on them too--one moment you want to smack the crap out of them and the next you wanna give him a hug.

Seriously, I do understand where you're coming from on this one.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat,I thought about it a lot, too. I really liked the cast and they did a good job on the movie. I reserve the right to be pissed at the ending, lol!