On appeal: Does the ending satisfy most of the expectations of the genre, and defy a few others?
Why it was added: This is a good idea. When a story tries to defy all expectations, the audience quickly catches on to the gag, and simply loses all expectations (and engagement) ...but they also check out when a story slavishly checks off every box. They only way to keep their attention is to alternate between the two.
How do the checklist movies answer this question?
- Alien: Yes, it fulfills all except one: the male leader dies and a subordinate woman survives and becomes the sole survivor.
- An Education: Satisfies almost all. She doesn’t realize the boring boy is right for her, but that’s not universal in these movies.
- The Babadook: The monster is both defeated and not, but nobody dies.
- Blazing Saddles: It works as a straightforward western, a straightforward character comedy, a spoof and a satire.
- Blue Velvet: Yes, the villain is killed and the girl is got, but we suspect that the hero will never be satisfied now that he’s seen the dark side.
- The Bourne Identity: Yes, they reshot the ending to add more action, but kept the hero commited to his newfound pacifism.
- Bridesmaids: Happy wedding, she gets guy, but he doesn’t save the day and the villain is befriended instead of getting comeuppance.
- Casablanca: Yes, they admit they love each other and kiss…but then he sends her away. They shoot one Nazi…but forgive the other.
- Donnie Brasco: Yes, the mob has a falling out, which is common, but the feds win, which is uncommon.
- Do the Right Thing: Comedy and drama come with fewer expectations than other genres, and it meets them all.
- The Fighter: It satisfies just about all.
- The Fugitive: Yes, everybody is caught, but none of the bad guys are killed, which is why this movie was nominated for best picture: it rises above the base violent urges that usually fuel these genres.
- Groundhog Day: He gets the girl and finds happiness, but only through not wanting to have sex with her that night.
- How to Train Your Dragon: They win the big battle but they also make peace. Hiccup wins but he also loses his foot.
- In a Lonely Place: No, it doesn’t satisfy any of them, but that’s the point: this is a feminist film (albeit much less so than the book) that wants us to be aware of and worried about our urges to see violent pay-offs. It works brilliantly.
- Iron Man: Villain is defeated, girl is lost (which is common for this genre), but secret identity is rejected, which is shockingly new.
- Raising Arizona: They get an unlikely happy ending (getting forgiven for the crime), but not as happy as it could have been (if they had gotten to keep the kid)
- Rushmore: All are satisfied.
- The Shining: It satisfies them all: the black guy is killed, the ax murderer is killed by the innocents who live, there is a brief implication at the end that events may re-occur, etc. Nevertheless, many genre-fans are not satisfied with this movie, because of the reluctance to commit to the supernatural element.
- Sideways: He ends up with the girl, but he doesn’t have to change in order to do it.
- Silence of the Lambs: Bill is caught, but Lecter gets away.
- Star Wars: The hero, the rogue and the mentor are all fairly traditional, but the princess is kick-ass, which defied expectations at the time.
- Sunset Boulevard: Yes, our hard-boiled narrator is killed and the murderer is arrested, but it’s all oddly funny.
The verdict: I guess it can go. In the book, every chapter has a “Misconceptions” section, so maybe this point can be moved there, possibly under “Concept”, or maybe under “Structure”?
Concept, I think. It's definitely worth a mention, but not necessarily a whole discussion.
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