I have a major pet peeve and you know what it is? Movies that are fantastic 90% of the way and then just let it all go to shit at the end. This phenomenon rarely happens, but I can think of two movies that really pissed me off and I have decided to dedicate this post to the movies that let me down in the end.
1. No Country for Old Men
Ok I watched this because everyone told me how amazing it was and to be fair the movie (for the most part) was pretty great. Until the end… I honestly can’t fully remember the ending of this one because I saw it a while ago and refuse to watch it again. But I can tell you that the good guys lose, the bad guys win, and all the others are just fucked. And I get that not every movie is meant to have an ending that serves up a nice heaping pile of justice (Inception anyone?), but I draw the line at endings that are just plain fucked up. I got so pissed by the end of No Country for Old Men that I literally was screaming at my television.
2. The Kids Are All Right
This movie had me right up until the shit ending. Here is the thing, I get this movie came out at a time when there were some major turns in the issue of gay marriage. I also understand that the writer of this film is very connected to this subject, but I also feel like she wrote the ending that preached what she wanted us to hear. Which is nothing new in film, lets be honest every writer and director does, but what you preach should go along with what you show. You have these characters and two of them are very likable, so much so you want them to have a happy ending. Then you have one that has almost no redeeming qualities and you want to make us feel something for her. At the end of the movie I was upset because I wanted the man and woman to end up together, but I was also questioning if that was because that was what I was used to. Which is where this movie is actually quite brilliant. Unfortunately once I thought it out I realized the movie led me to want that ending and then preached to me that I shouldn’t want it.
If you haven’t seen the movie it’s about two kids and their two moms. The son wants to find their biological father and the daughter finally agrees to contact him. So they end up meeting their dad, played by the hunky Mark Ruffalo, and the daughter loves him but the son is less than impressed. The mom’s find out and they end up inviting him to dinner where he then offers the laid-back mom (Julianne Moore) a job working for him. The other mom played by Annette Benning does not like him and scoffs at the idea of Moore working for him. I should mention here that Benning is an alcoholic, workaholic, condescending, domineering ass throughout the whole movie. She tries to control her kids, her wife, and is not a likeable character at all. So Moore starts working for Ruffalo and he has a little thing for her which eventually turns into them sleeping together. At the same time he gets much closer to his daughter and Benning starts to feel she is losing control of her family. The family goes to dinner at Ruffalo’s house and Benning starts to warm up to him until she goes to use the bathroom and realizes her wife is having an affair with him. Drama ensues and everyone shuns Mark and Julianne’s characters. He tells Julianne he is in love with her and she responds “I’m gay” and hangs up on him. She then pleads her families forgiveness and the movie ends with the family miserable (clearly) but intact. And Ruffalo is just tossed to the side and told to get his own family.
And that is where I have a problem! Mark’s character was a major positive point in the lives of EVERYONE in this movie and how dare they toss him to the side like he was nothing. I fucking hated Annette Benning in this movie and if we were honest and this was a male/female relationship with the same issues we would be pissed if Julianne went back. But because it’s two women we are supposed to excuse all of the bad behavior, which in my opinion is copout. It definitely is not showing their marriage in a positive light, yes they stay together but they are just sticking it out. And maybe it is my own slight prejudice against marriage (yeah a girl who is anti-marriage, rare I know), but I don’t feel like you should be married to someone your just sticking it out with.
I also don’t like the sort of men are bad treatment Ruffalo gets in this movie. Benning continues to either tell Mark or hint at the fact that he needs to get his own family, and the thing is the kids wouldn’t exist without him. He didn’t ask to meet them, but when they found him he embraced them and helped them grow. The kids were better off with him and to toss him to the side at the end makes me feel like the writer is just telling us he was only useful as a sperm donor. And I feel like her need to be pro marriage messes with her ability to tell the story well.
I think an honest end to the movie wouldn’t be so clean-cut. I have no doubt that Julianne’s character loved her wife and kids and I don’t think she would just leave them for Mark, but I do think she would take time to figure things out. She clearly had some feelings towards him and I highly doubt those feelings would just end. The same goes with the kids, they might be mad at Mark but they would eventually get over it. He is in their lives and once someone is in your life it’s hard to get them out. I would take the ending of the movie if maybe it was like a plot twist rather than an ending. Maybe jumping ahead several months or a year and finding that they have made progress. In the end Benning should have shown growth, Julianne should have gotten confidence and chosen to be in a relationship with someone she wanted to be with (either with her wife, Mark, someone else, or just by herself), Mark would be in the picture in some way, and the kids would still be in contact with him.
At least with that ending I could see some thought and work there. To me making a family work isn’t about keeping the parents together no matter what, but doing what you have to do to make that family unit strong. Mark was the piece of the puzzle that was missing and no amount of denial can change that. It isn’t because he’s a man or because it’s what we are used to, it’s because his character had a very positive effect on the people in the family. Quite simply they needed him.
And that is my super long spiel on The Kids Are Alright.
And as promised a dumb hat…
Ah goofy winter hats how I love thee!