Just because a film is great, adored, or heck, even a combination both, it doesn't mean those final minutes of the final reel are gonna tie things up the way we'd like. Quality endings are a fickle and elusive mistress, my friend. As such, here are five examples of critically lauded hits that were somehow incapable of sticking the landing. Warning: spoilers ahead!
I enjoyed this film a heckuva lot, as did the general public, Academy voters, and Mr. Quentin Tarantino. I mention the latter because our pal Q clearly didn't want Django Unchained to end. Which may explain why the flick lumbers on for a full half hour after Django (Jamie Fox) gets his wife back and our primary protagonist (Christophe Waltz) and antagonist (Leo DiCaprio) are shot up like Swiss cheese. Yep, it seems ol' Django really has it in for Leo's mansion, family, servants, neighbors, etc, 'cause he sure is bent on risking his precious life to eradicate 'em all. Which means two hours of filmmaking restraint are chucked out the window, replaced with a comical amount of stuff blowing up real good for no real reason.
Another beloved film we've all seen, and most of it has held up well lo these past 37 years. With the exception of those final few minutes, of course. With Lois Lane buried to death in an earthquake, Superman pulls the ultimate Deux ex Machina: he saves her life by turning back time a few minutes. How? You know, by flying into space, spinning giant rings around the Earth, and making it rotate the opposite way. Uh, yeah. Here's a physics lesson: rings make great fashion accessories, but they don't do bupkis when it comes to manipulating time.
Okay, this one's plenty simple to explain. Our standard Hollywood happy ending (not always a bad thing) sees the much-desired reconciliation of Danny and Sandy 2.0. (Lesson: to get the man, all you have to do is change everything about yourself!) Everybody sings, everybody dances, everytin' irie. D & S then climb into the equal parts systematic/hydromatic Greased Lightning and drive off into the sunset. Perfect. Except they keep on driving. And then fly. Into. The. Sunset. Yep, in a bizarre tonal shift, the car defies Earth's gravitational laws, taking flight like some sort of lubed-up 1950s Cessna. Nobody on screen finds this particularly odd, either; they're all just like, "Yep, flying car. That can happen sometimes." Spoiler alert: I checked Wikipedia, and it can't happen. So suck it, Grease.
The gripping courtroom drama that shot Edward Norton to stardom. Richard Gere plays a defense attorney who comes to the aid of a sweet, innocent altar boy named Aaron (Norton) who's charged with murdering a priest. Awesome unexpected twist: turns out Aaron actually did commit the murder, but isn't found criminally responsible due to a split personality disorder. Ah, but if only stuff ended there. Hoping to further blow our minds, the movie adds a second twist: Aaron doesn't suffer from a split personality after all -- he's just an evil dude for whatever reason. Zzzz, laaaaaame. Should have quit while you were ahead, Primal Fear.
'Return Of The Jedi'
We've all seen this movie, so I'll cut to the chase: the last few minutes of Jedi don't just round out the film, they round out the entire Star Wars franchise. Lotta pressure, so here's an idea: let's DON'T celebrate the Empire's demise with dancing Ewoks. Correction: dancing Ewoks that proceed to sing an awful, cutsey, soul-destroying anthem called Yub Nub. Sample lyrics: Yub nub / eee chop yub nub / ah toe meet toe pee-chee keene / g'noop dock fling oh ah. It goes on, but I'll spare you. So grating was this song, serial revisionist George Lucas scrapped it when the original trilogy was re-released in the late 1990s. (Quite possibly the only good decision he's made over the past three decades.)