Life is imitating art more and more these days, as is evidenced by the plethora of outrageous, over the top real life proposals that spring up on youtube every day, it seems. You know the ones, the ones where an unsuspecting woman is either out to dinner or just going for a walk with her boyfriend, and suddenly everyone starts singing to her, or a flash mob appears and her previously perfectly normal seeming boyfriend switches into true Bollywood mode and starts singing, dancing, juggling etc and then eventually slides down onto his knees and begs for her hand in front of a cast of thousands.
So, the two things you need in a Hollywood ending - public - the hero/heroine makes themselves vulnerable in front of two or more people, and the possibility that it will all go horribly wrong lurking bubbling under the surface.
Dangerous stuff. I think people like it so much because there's always the worrying question - will she say yes? Or will she shake her head, or run away as fast as her legs can carry her... it's a hell of a lot of pressure. The running away from an elaborate proposal has always appealed to me as the perfect beginning of a book-but I guess that's just the 'writer as torturer' coming out in me. I've always thought that a private, low-key reveal of love is powerful to read, but decided to look today at 5 blockbuster Hollywood movies to see if I'm right about that. These are all movies that I've enjoyed, without actually analyzing the endings-and the question is - Hollywood ending or not?
1. Pretty Woman - ending - Richard Gere sticking his head through the top of his limo, opera blaring, climbing the fire escape with a rose between his teeth. Public humiliation? pretty possible. He could fall or be rejected publicly. Definite Hollywood ending and it works.
2. Romancing the Stone - ending - pretty similar to Pretty Woman ending actually, but with a boat instead of a limo. Also works.
3. Bridget Jones' Diary - pretty unforgettable ending actually - Bridget in her leopard pants running out in the snow to find Mark Darcy who she feels has left because of something hateful she's written about him in her diary. Nice bookend from the beginning of the movie - it's all about the diary... And she finds him, he's bought a new diary, a new beginning. Cue bemused onlookers and a heartfelt confession from Bridget in front of strangers...yup, another Hollywood ending.
4. 27 Dresses - The absolute ending has the funny scene where the heroine forces all her friends to wear the horrible bridesmaid dresses that she's had to wear while she was their bridesmaids, but backing up a bit, to the story resolution--yup, another one. Our heroine stands up at a wedding in front of loads of guests, and says she's fallen in love with him. He doesn't respond immediately, then says 'Get over here'. Hollywood ending. All the way.
5. Working Girl - Tess, has lied to Jack ( by pretending to be a trader on Wall Street when she is actually Jack's ex, Katherine's secretary. The romantic conclusion is a way before the actual ending of the film, and more subtle, but it does include the elements of a Hollywood ending. There's a chance meeting in the office building, where Tess is clearing out her stuff, having been accused of lying and passing off Katherine's work as her own. Katherine, Jack and their client, Trask and his people are about to go into the lift, and Tess has dropped her possessions and files. Jack helps her pick them up. Although at this stage, Katherine has won, she can't resist a final snipe at Tess. Jack breaks - refuses to go into the lift with them, and stands up for Tess, saying she is the team leader of the project.
He risks his position with the valuable client by going out on a limb - in front of all the other executives (publicly) and by doing so, demonstrates that he has faith and belief in Tess. The actual 'love result' is played out in my favorite ending - Jack and Tess are obviously sharing an apartment and they're having breakfast standing up, while Jack packs her lunchbox before she goes in to her new job.
So - a Hollywood ending can be as large and elaborate as one of today's proposal's on youtube, but doesn't have to be, it can be smaller but no less profound, as long as it includes the Hollywood ending elements in bold above.
And because everyone loves Mark Darcy, here's that Bridget Jones ending to set us up for the week...