For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble
Memorable Movie Endings
A couple months ago, a friend and I were crammed into a booth on an overnight train ride through the Thailand countryside. To take our minds off our atrophying buttocks we started talking. Since I was part of the conversation, the topic, naturally, was about movies.

We tried to make a list of the most memorable movie endings we had ever seen. This was a surprisingly difficult task since good movies frequently have forgettable endings. For example, I really liked Trading Places with Eddie Murphy (back when he was funny) and Dan Akroyd (back when he was working). Great setup, super cast, but what happened at the end? I’m not talking about a general, "Eddie and Danny tricked the two brothers and now they’re rich, blah, blah, blah." I mean specifically, what exactly happened? I don’t remember and chances are you don’t either.

By definition, a memorable movie ending is one that you can think of off the top of your head; it could be clever, unexpected, appropriate, or even depressing as hell but one that stayed with you well after the credits.

Here are a few movie endings that have stayed with me, and I invite you to share your own.

Spoilers lurk below

Usual Suspects – You can argue all day whether or not everything in Usual Suspects made “sense,” but you can’t deny that Kevin Spacey’s final exit was very, very cool. The finishing touch was when the too-smug Chazz Palminteri was left standing on the curb completely clueless and outclassed.

American History X – This was a dark, gritty film that was on the cusp of becoming sentimental before it took a loaded gun and shot it’s way into this list. The senselessness of the final scene reopened all those emotional wounds gouged in by the film’s previous acts.

An alternate ending had Charlton Heston come down with a severe case of "Jungle Fever"

Planet of the Apes – I already knew how this one ended before I pressed Play, and I was still surprised. By the way, if you think I'm referring to the 2001 version with Mark Wahlberg then you have just suffered a recent head trauma and require immediate medical attention.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – This movie had all kinds of excellent in it: great cast, great plot, and memorable characters that stayed true to their doomed-gunslinger persona right up until the very last frame.

If you squint really hard you can kind of see Thelma & Louise
hanging out with a pack of vultures

Thelma & Louise – I’ll confess that I haven’t seen this entire movie. I know there’s some gun shooting and some half naked Brad Pitt in there, but fifteen years later, the ending remains so memorable that it’s become a cliché (Wayne’s World 2, anybody?). It’s also very much like an updated version of the Butch Cassidy ending, but still memorable for all of that.

Brazil – Odd, odd film. I’d like to take some props because I actually saw this one coming; as strange as Brazil was, I knew there was no way Jonathon Pryce was going to get off that well.

For some reason, my memorable endings lean on the dark and tragic side (perhaps it’s a reflection of my tragic love for dairy products?). Please share the movie endings that have stuck with you and maybe we’ll learn about you in the process.


Sadie said...

Umm, I've seen Trading Places like eight gazillion times and I totally can't remember the ending.

Is it the gorilla on the boat?

How bizarre.

Matt said...

You know, I think you're right but I really have no idea. I love that movie too (I think I've seen it like twenty times) but I can't remember that ending for the life of me. Gah.

OneShare said...

hmmm nice review. thanx.


Orhan Kahn said...

Momento had an awesome ending; oddly enough it was also the beginning.

Anonymous said...

The Sixth Sense had a brilliant surprise ending, remember?

Matt said...

Orhan - Memento was an excellent movie, but I think the ending dragged on a little bit more than it should've. In retrospect, I think the beginning was better than the ending although they were both good.

anonymous - Correctomundo. I forgot about Sixth Sense, but the ending lost some punch for me since my brother spilled the beans before I watched it.

Anonymous said...