In this 1992 film, Elijah Wood and that kid from Jurassic Park play two young brothers who live in fear of their abusive stepfather. The non-hobbit son concocts a plan to escape on his Radio Flyer wagon. At the end of the film, he and his wagon careen off a cliff, only to fly up, up, and away from his crappy life.
There are a couple theories floating around here. One is that the younger brother is a mental fiction created by Elijah Wood's narrator to cope with the abuse--it's notable that no one except the narrator's family interacts with the younger brother. Another theory (which even Roger Ebert suggested) is that the younger brother plummets to his death or is beaten to death by his stepfather.
Furthermore, the narrator's final lines ("Now do you understand what I mean about history being in the mind of the teller? [...]'Cause that's how I remember it.") lend further credence to all of these totally depressing scenarios.
You're a goddamned liar, Tom Hanks!
Why does it make the film better?
Radio Flyer was panned for its saccharine and frankly retarded ending, and the fan theories give the film a more poignant twist. However, we at Cracked find both of these endings wholly unsatisfactory and instead choose to believe that the kid was shanghaied away by Falcor.
Fact: Every movie should end like this.
Quick quiz: What do Minority Report, Taxi Driver, Total Recall and Observe and Report have in common? If you said "that hooker with three boobs," we dig your style, but no dice.
Give up? The final act of all of these movies takes place entirely in the protagonists' minds.
Minority Report and Total Recall are based on the works of Phillip K. Dick, a sci-fi author notorious for exploring human perceptions of reality. In Total Recall, the entire point of the film is that you're not quite sure where the simulation Arnold purchased ends and begins (and a major plot point involves the bad guys trying to rescue him from the simulation, or claiming they were). So it's plausible, and even likely, that the ending (or even the entire damn movie) occurred in the brainwashed Arnold Schwarzenegger's mind.
Less obvious is the shiny, happy ending of the neo-noir Minority Report, with the three rescued psychics living out their lives in an idyllic cabin right out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. It feels so out-of-place that it could very well be a delusion of Tom Cruise's Xenu-infested skull. Remember, Cruise's character was briefly imprisoned in that futuristic iJail where the prisoners' brains remained free to dream. It's possible that the "escape" and heroism was all part of the fantasy that keeps the prisoners from escaping (just like the "Zion is also the Matrix" theory).
On a similar note, critics have interpreted the weirdly cheerful ending of Taxi Driver as the dying thoughts of Travis Bickle. Hell, even Scorsese admits that the film's overly happy ending is a cipher. This same theory applies to Taxi Driver homage Observe and Report: After Seth Rogen stops taking his medication, his schlubby bipolar mall cop saves the day and gets the girl through a series of grossly improbable events (including Rogen beating a dozen policemen and shooting a guy with no consequences).
Paul Blart ends this way too.
Why Do They Make These Films Better?
The final scenes of each seem to clash with the movies' overall message. These fan theories reaffirm the films' darker themes while offering the audience twists of Shyamalanian proportions.
These theories also give us hope for other films too. For example, we have our own theory that The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull occurs entirely in Indiana Jones's mind--he hallucinates the whole goddamn mess while slowly dying from radiation poisoning in a lead-lined fridge.
We actually hope that Indy is dead. Just so this never happened.
When George Lucas introduced his magnum opus, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, he tried to shoehorn in perhaps every damn character from the original series, the obese Rancor keeper from Return of the Jedi notwithstanding.
Third Year Consecutive Tatooine Spring Break Wet T-Shirt Contest Champion.
By plopping beloved characters as R2-D2 into the thick of previous events, many fans realized that Lucas had created Chrysler-sized plot holes. For example, R2-D2 and C-3PO basically witnessed Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader, but this fact is never mentioned in the original trilogy. Neither is the fact that Yoda and Chewbacca knew each other (seen fighting alongside one another in Episode III), making it a spectacular coincidence that Luke and Obi-Wan just happened to run into him when looking for a ride off Tatooine in Episode IV.
Lucas tried to cover the "why in Episode IV does C-3PO seem ignorant of everything he saw in the prequels" plot hole by having Bail Organa wipe his memory. But one incredibly detailed theory suggests that someone in the Star Wars universe realized that rebooting the droids was a godawful idea. After all, R2-D2 and C-3PO had just witnessed the rise of the Galactic Empire firsthand. Why the hell would the Rebels delete this precious intel?
According to this theory, R2-D2 must have convinced Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi to spare him a memory wipe, whereas C-3PO was not so lucky. During the 20 or so years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the two robots travel undercover; Threepio suspects that he and R2 are affiliated with the Rebels, but unbeknownst to the golden dandypants, R2 has been in communication with the Rebel Alliance the whole time.
He also never tells Threepio that he's really a tiny man in a can.
In RoTS, Chewie is good friends with Yoda and a high-ranking warrior during the defense of Kashyyyk. Why would a second-in-command of the Wookiee army suddenly slum it with Han Solo, a smuggling lowlife? Because Yoda--who's holed up on his toilet planet--needed Chewie to be his eyes and ears.
The theory further states that Chewbacca convinces Han to work with Jabba the Hutt; this way Chewie can frequently visit Tatooine and keep tabs on Luke Skywalker. We further presume Chewie's other unofficial title was "Incest Cop," and he shoved Han into the mix whenever Luke and Leia capered off to play "Hide The Womp Rat."
Why does it make the film better?
The theory bestows the series' sidekicks with a much greater narrative dignity. It also makes Chewbacca's cameo in Revenge of the Sith something more than a totally crass reason to introduce the "Kashyyyk Resistance Fighter Chewbacca" action figure.
"Medals? Oh, yeah, no thanks. We're good."
The theory adds some fascinating subtext to the original films, and also makes the prequels, well, worth watching. Most importantly, if this theory was true, George Lucas would get some serious critical cred. And Lord knows, he could use it.
Pic offered without comment.
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For great movies that shouldn't have been tampered with, check out 5 Awesome Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changes. Or allow Swaim to show you some directors that skipped their History classes in school, in 11 Movies Saved by Historical Inaccuracy.