The difference between a good film and a great film is often in whether it sticks the landing. It's no secret that most movies consider a few possible conclusions, but these proposed endings are so bad they would have made you take up, like, reading.
Toy Story 4 went about as well as we could hope for an unnecessary sequel to a movie about the importance of moving on. It opens with a flashback to an earlier moment in the Pixar Cinematic Toyverse, where Bo Peep is donated to a new owner and Woody rejects the opportunity to go with her, choosing his perceived duty to Andy over his true love. It's sort of like toy Casablanca.
Back in the present, Woody is struggling with the fact that his new owner, Bonnie, doesn't play with him nearly as much as Andy did. Incidentally, that's also the plot of the Toy Story 4 porn parody, Toy Story 4. Then Woody really lives up to his name when he runs into Bo Peep at a carnival and discovers she's now a cool runaway toy who travels the world and helps other lost toys find new owners, but who refuses to get tied down with just one kid of her own.
After many fork-related shenanigans are had, Woody realises that Bonnie will be okay without him, and he leaves the gang so he can be a lost toy with Bo Peep. It's a difficult decision, but Bo's story has taught him the positives of living their existentially terrifying toy lives on their own terms. The movie ends with Woody helping Bo on her mission while they make a happy home among lost toys who don't want to be groped by sticky fingers anymore.
How It Almost Ended
Instead of Bo Peep convincing Woody that you don't need a kid to be happy, the exact opposite was going to happen. After Woody succeeds in getting Forky back to Bonnie and the other toys, Bo sees a random kid at the carnival and is so porcelain head over heels for her that she decides to abandon her current lifestyle and go back to being someone's toy. Just like that, with no explanation, completely contradicting everything we've learned about this new take on her since the movie started.
Not only does that muddle the message from "You should do what you want with your life" to "It's okay to dabble with freedom, but ultimately you must return to the grinding drudgery that you hated," but it screws over Woody just for the sake of having a bitter ending. His heart is broken a second time, and now he's stuck on his own at the carnival too. Instead of Woody reuniting with his lost love and re-evaluating his life it's like he had a college fling with some flighty weirdo who eventually broke up with him to focus on her Etsy store.
Marvel movies didn't become a bajillion dollar franchise because of their subtle ruminations on the human condition. The closest we got to a downer ending was Infinity War, and that's only because you left the theatre knowing you'd have to put up with a year of moronic theories on how the next movie would undo everything. Guardians of the Galaxy ends on an especially upbeat montage of cosmic joy: Xandar is saved, John C. Reilly gets to play with his green alien kid, and Peter Quill now has a new family to love and go on wacky space adventures with. Even Groot gets reborn as a newer, more marketable Groot.
How It Almost Ended
In the midst of this positivity parade, we were going to get one more scene back on Earth. In it, according to director James Gunn, we would see the grandpa who raised Peter holding a photo of him and his mother as "he looks up at the stars, and we go up to the stars and it was really sweet."
Sweet? Is that the word? Doesn't that imply that he knew his grandson was abducted by aliens? Did he tell anyone? Was he laughed off a crazy old man? Oh shit, he must be really old by this point, huh? Like "about to die sad and alone" old? Gunn said the scene was removed for being "freaking sad," but that's one hell of an understatement. They might as well have showed a montage of all the grieving widows and children these movies have implicitly created.
The dark joke of Terry Gilliam's dystopian Brazil is that there is perhaps no greater evil than the callous indifference of a sprawling bureaucratic mess. Jonathan "Yes, I had roles before Game of Thrones" Pryce plays idealistic daydreamer Sam, but the simple act of trying to correct a typo's consequences eventually leads to him being charged with treason and dragged off to be tortured. Then Robert De Niro busts in to rescue Sam and, as the heroic resistance work to overthrow the evil system, Sam escapes the city with his true love. Hooray!
But if that sounds too good to be true, that's because it is: Sam actually never left the torture chamber where he was implicitly lobotomised. Daydreaming is now all he can do, so he's declared a lost cause. Sam basically got "Simple Rick'd" about 30 years before that was a thing. Gilliam had to fight hard for this ending because, while bleak, it does fit the story. Sam's imagination is the only thing they can never take.
How It Almost Ended
Universal Pictures were for some reason worried that viewers weren't going to rush to their friends and say "Oh man, you totally have to see this movie about a decaying world where everyone refuses to take responsibility for the system they're trapped in, leading to our everyman hero being tortured into stupification!" So they pushed for an ending in the North American release that was the same as Gilliam's up until the big "Actually..." Instead Sam and his love's escape is real, complete with a sudden swell of happy music. Hooray!
The "Love Conquers All" ending is supposed to be upbeat, but it's mostly just abrupt and confusing, like if Schindler's List had ended with everyone going to the circus. Ironically, Gilliam found himself trapped in his own bureaucratic hell, as arguments over which ending to use kept the film from being released stateside. Gilliam ran private screenings and took out advertisements pushing his version, and eventually Universal relented and gave America Brazil in all the glory of its downer ending... where it promptly bombed at the box office. Sometimes the all-consuming bureaucratic monolith has a point.
Alien 4: Somehow This Won't Be The Low Point For The Franchise asked the audience to accept a lot, from a Ripley clone to a baby alien to a Joss Whedon script. It's not a very good movie, but at least it wraps up the series pretty well. The Xenomorph queen is killed, Ron Perlman gets to make out with Dominique Pinon, and Ripley, or at least a Ripley, makes it home to Earth over 250 years after she left. She can finally live in peace, and Sigourney Weaver can finally go play other roles.
How It Almost Ended
Resurrection ends with Ripley looking down on the Earth she just saved from an alien infestation. But in a deleted scene the crew lands on the outskirts of Paris and, surprise, it's a desolate shithole!
Earth has already gone through an unspecified apocalypse, making four movies' worth of death and destruction completely pointless. It has some shock value to it, but it also feels like a big "fuck you" to the audience that already suffered through the rest of this garbage movie. At least Winona Ryder doesn't get abruptly stabbed to death in this one too.
More Americans know the ending of Independence Day than the lyrics of "The Star-Spangled Banner." After the aliens conveniently launch their big attack during the country's birthday, the weirdo alcoholic veteran played by Randy Quaid slams his fighter plane into the boss ship's glowing weak point. This noble sacrifice saves the day and, unfortunately, sets up Independence Day: Resurgence.
How It Almost Ended
Quaid's character Russell was always involved in the big finish but, having not flown a fighter since the Vietnam War, it does strain the realism of Roland Emmerich's carefully crafted, almost documentary-like war film when he hops into a modern jet and is immediately up in the air with Will Smith and the President. So the even more dubious decision was almost made to have him be rejected as a pilot because he was a washed-up lunatic who couldn't think of a good quip during the selection process. Then he would have shown up at the last minute in his rickety crop dusting biplane. Oh, and it would have had giant missiles strapped to it. He looks like he's flying a plane built by Wile E. Coyote.
This ending was cut for, try to contain your shock here, being too comedic, although it is conveniently available on the laserdisc special edition. While Independence Day is basically just one big cheese platter, it at least treats every scene with the same amount of moronic intensity. Strapping Randy Quaid into a plane that presumably would've stalled out while trying to climb up to the battle would have stretched what little sense of credibility the movie was already working with.
Brendan is a writer, editor and filmmaker, you can support his work by liking his Facebook Page and checking out his website. He is also a huge movie fanatic who seems to be obsessed with telling people that their favorite movies almost ending very differently. In fact he's written about it three other times here, here, & also here.
For more, check out Titanic Had The Most Horrifying Ending (Not How You Think):
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