In the days of yore, Hollywood movies demanded a happy ending. That is what audiences demanded. How times have changed. Cinema goers are no longer that easily categorized. Their tastes are more fragmented and nuanced. A cookie cutter ending will not cut it for every Hollywood movie these days.
Here are 5 endings often seen in Hollywood movies:
This is perhaps the simplest of endings. Nice and upbeat.
The protagonist achieves their “outer” and “inner” goals. In other words, the hero gets the gold and becomes a better person. This is almost a given in romantic comedies. In “The Back Up Plan”, Zoe has her baby (twins) and a man who’ll stand by her.
The tragedy harks from ancient theater and often involved great sacrifice, even death.
The protagonist achieves neither their “inner” nor their “outer” goal. “Leaving Las Vegas” was a tragedy because he drank himself to death. Hollywood avoids such endings like the plague. Audience desire some sense of achievement in their films. Perversely, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Thelma and Louise” technically don’t qualify as tragic endings because Romeo and Juliet ended up together (albeit in death) and Thelma and Louise were emancipated from their dreary lives.
This is a mixture of happy and sad. It is perhaps the most realistic type of movie ending.
The protagonist achieves their “inner” goal, but fails to achieve their “outer” goal. In “Rain Man”, Charlie doesn’t acquire “ownership” of his brother, but he does grow from a self-centered narcissist to a more selfless brother (metamorphosis). In “Little Miss Sunshine”, Olive Hoover doesn’t win the beauty contest, but brings her family closer.
Technically, these come under tragedies, albeit not as extreme. There is a certain level of discomfort such a loss, but no great sacrifice.
The protagonist achieves their “outer” goal, but fails to achieve their “inner” transformation. In “Citizen Kane”, Charles Foster gets the power and wealth (outer), but dies empty and unfulfilled. Fables are moralistic tales warning what happens if you don’t follow a certain moral code.
These are more stylistic endings in ice films, which simply without making either a positive or negative judgement about the central theme. They end on a “just because” note. Life happens.
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