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The Sound of Music (1965)
The Happy Ending: The von Trapp family escape into the Alps, fleeing the Nazis, to the uplifting trains of ‘Climb Every Mountain’.
The Depressing Implications: The family have a heck of a long walk ahead of them. Hope winter’s not on its way.
Also, having helped the von Trapp family, surely the nuns are going to bear the brunt of the Nazis’ ire?
The Village (2004)
The Happy Ending: “I’m back, Lucius.”
Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard) returns to the village with supplies that should help Lucius get better.
The Depressing Implications: Rather than face the outside world, the Elders of the village decide to keep the knowledge of the modern world secret from everybody else.
Which will surely lead to more illness, disease and death.
The Happy Ending: Electrician Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) fulfils a life-long ambition by seeing an alien spaceship.
The Depressing Implications: Well, Roy’s kidnapped by the ETs, meaning he’s just left behind a wife and kids, for a start.
Also, who knows what the aliens are going to do to him. Sure, they played nice on Earth, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be nice when we’re not looking…
The Happy Ending: After spending a little too long as a thirtysomething man, Josh (David Moscow/Tom Hanks) decides it’s probably best that he goes back to being a 13 year old again.
The Depressing Implications: Poor old Susan (Elizabeth Perkins), whom Josh crushes on as an adult, just lost the guy she loves…
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
The Happy Ending: Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) manages to restore Susan’s (Natalie Wood) belief in Christmas by giving her family a dream home.
The Depressing Implications: Father Christmas doesn’t actually exist, so Susan’s in for a whole lot of pain when she grows up.
The deceit. Just think of the deceit.
School of Rock (2003)
The Happy Ending: Dewey’s (Jack Black) school band compete without him, and even though they come second, they win the crowd over.
Meanwhile, Dewey sets up his own School of Rock and we all sing into the credits.
The Depressing Implications: Dewey has a lot to answer for.
He kidnapped a bus-load of kids and committed identity fraud.
We imagine he’d be found playing the harmonica in prison if there was ever a School Of Rock 2…
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Happy Ending: Pirate Westley (Cary Elwes) raids Prince Humperdinck’s (Chris Sarandon) castle and saves the lovely Buttercup (Robin Wright).
The Depressing Implications: Westley spares Humperdinck’s life, which means this story is surely far from over.
This guy has an army, for heaven’s sake – and knows exactly where Westley lives…
Super 8 (2011)
The Happy Ending: Joe (Joel Courtney) and his friends help the invading alien rebuild his starship and jet off into space.
We all smile and feel fuzzy inside.
The Depressing Implications: Wait, what about the military, who were trying to keep this thing under wraps?
With an entire town of witnesses on their hands, they have a massive clean-up operation to bolster.
Wonder how they’ll keep everybody quiet…
The Happy Ending: Juno (Ellen Page) decides to give her baby to Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) after all, and admits her feelings for goofy track runner Paulie (Michael Cera).
The Depressing Implications: Juno’s still had to give up her newborn baby.
Sure, she can live out the rest of her teenhood, but she’s always going to be wondering if somebody’s going to turn up on her doorstep one day asking “mommy?”
The Happy Ending: Charlie ‘CD’ Bales (Steve Martin) ends up with the Roxanne Kowalski (Daryl Hannah), the woman he’s been pining over forever.
The Depressing Implications: Is ending up with Roxanne really the best thing that could happen to CD?
Throughout the film, Roxanne proves herself to be flippant, argumentative, paranoid and damned stupid – not least in her silly lusting after fit-but-dim Chris (Rick Rossovich). CD, you can do better.
The Last Samurai (2003)
The Happy Ending: American soldier Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) helps the Japanese emperor realise that Japan needs to modernise in order to progress, and the country rediscovers its fighting spirit.
The Depressing Implications: Just seventy years later, the country bombs Pearl Harbour and launches itself into World War II… Gulp.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Happy Ending: Struggling genius Chris Gardner (Will Smith) finally nabs himself a job and establishes his own brokerage firm.
The Depressing Implications: The film’s set in 1981. In 1982, a “deep recession” gripped America, causing many to lose their jobs.
We hope the movie version of Gardner wasn’t one of them. Despite being based on a true story, Happyness condenses real events that took place over a period of several years into a few months.
The real Gardner made it out of the recession okay - but Smith's version had a lot more to deal with, in a shorter space of time.
Field of Dreams (1989)
The Happy Ending: “Build it and they will come.”
Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) builds his own baseball field, plays catch with his dead dad, and watches as hundreds of people come to watch the baseball.
The Depressing Implications: But wait, Ray doesn’t have a license to charge for large-scale baseball games, nor does he belong to a league.
Then there’s the fact that he has no staff, no toilets and his business is out in the middle of bleeding nowhere…
The Happy Ending: Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) outsmarts the Predator and traps it after a fist fight.
Then blows the sucker to smithereens.
The Depressing Implications: So there’s no trace of the Predator left.
How on Earth is Dutch going to explain all the deaths in the jungle to his superiors without ending up in a mental asylum and/or jail?
What Dreams May Come (1998)
The Happy Ending: After the most epic of quests, Chris (Robin Williams) reunites with his wife and kids in Heaven.
The Depressing Implications: Chris suggests reincarnation to his wife, and they’re apparently reborn as kids.
Which means they'll probably have to go through the whole palava all over again at some point.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
The Happy Ending: Harold (Will Ferrell) saves a boy from being mowed down by a bus and ends up in hospital – but he doesn’t die as his narrator Karen (Emma Thompson) had predicted.
The Depressing Implications: Harold survived, hurrah!
But he’s still a character in a book whose entire life is predetermined by an author.
Not exactly the happiest of endings, then…
The Happy Ending: After being stalked by a pair of psycho serial killers, Sidney (Neve Campbell) survives – alongside buddy Randy (Jamie Kennedy), news reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and police officer Dewey (David Arquette).
The Depressing Implications: Sidney survived, but she also discovered that her mum was a massive slut and basically responsible (however indirectly) for all of her friends being dead. Bummer.
The Happy Ending: The One Ring has been destroyed.
So has Gollum and, apparently, Sauron.
Cue lots of drinking and partying in the Shire.
The Depressing Implications: All is right in Middle-earth, with balance restored and the evil forces of Sauron defeated.
But Frodo still has to go off to the Undying Lands with the elves, leaving behind his hobbit friends.
Fetch the tissues, will you?
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
The Happy Ending: Belle declares her love for the Beast, which he returns. Cue a swish of Disney magic, and the Beast is returned to his princely human form just in time for the end credits.
The Depressing Implications: The film’s set in the late 1700s.
Problem is, the French revolution kicked off in 1789 and the aristocracy were overthrown by new notions of equality and citizenship.
Wonder if Belle, her prince, and their staff survived that…
Straw Dogs (1971)
The Happy Ending: David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) mans up and fights the village idiots, killing them in order to save his home and his wife.
“Jesus, I got ‘em all.”
The Depressing Implications: David and his wife (Susan George) are obviously destined for divorce, while David turns into some sort of drifter. Yikes.
Big Fish (2004)
The Happy Ending: Edward (Albert Finney) realises that all of his father’s fantastical stories were true (albeit slightly exaggerated), and passes the stories onto his young son.
The Depressing Implications: Well, that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that Edward spent his entire life hating his ‘lying’ father.
You can’t mend that with an eleventh hour revelation.
Benny & Joon (1993)
The Happy Ending: Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson) is released from hospital and gets her own apartment.
The Depressing Implications: When Benny (Aidan Quinn) visits his sister, he finds her with Sam (Johnny Depp) and decides to leave them in peace.
Which means the brother-sister relationship will never be the same again. Sob.
Hard Candy (2006)
The Happy Ending: Teenager Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) makes Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) pay for his ill deeds by forcing him to step off the edge of his roof and hang himself.
The Depressing Implications: Can Hayley actually get away with what she did? It might look like a suicide, but there has actually been a murder here - and the police tend to investigate that sort of thing.
How long before they track her IP address?
Also, Kohlver was definitely a monster, but we pity his poor friends, who have been completely kept in the dark up until the events of the movie.
It's going to be an awkward funeral, that's for sure.
Top Gun (1986)
The Happy Ending: Maverick (Tom Cruise) and co are sent out on a dangerous mission to rescue a communications ship and battle six enemy planes.
The Depressing Implications: According to the original script and the red stars on their helmets, the enemy planes actually belong to North Korea.
By engaging with the six bogies, Maverick’s actually proclaiming war on North Korea…
Let the Right One In (2008)
The Happy Ending: Loner Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is saved from bullies by vampire Eli (Lina Leandersson) and runs away with her.
The Depressing Implications: Oskar’s sure to end up just like Eli’s other companion, Håkan (Per Ragnar), who winds up tortured and – eventually – very dead.
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
The Happy Ending: Young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) dies and is revealed to be Princess Moanna, who goes on to rule the underworld.
The Depressing Implications: That’s all very well and good, but in the real world, poor Ofelia does actually die.
Which isn’t happy at all, really…
Life of Brian (1979)
The Happy Ending: Happy in the sense that it ends on a group of guys merrily singing along to ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.’
The Depressing Implications: But then depressing as hell when you remember the guys singing have actually all been crucified.
A slow, painful death awaits them at the end of that musical ditty.
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
The Happy Ending: Joanna (Meryl Streep) wins the court case for custody of her son, but decides ex-husband Ted (Dustin Hoffman) should take him instead.
The Depressing Implications: We’re happy that little Billy gets to stay with his dad, but he’s still going to grow up without a mum.
Which sucks no matter how you look at it.
The Happy Ending: The humans decide it’s time to head back to Earth, relearn to use their limbs and start rebuilding the planet.
The Depressing Implications: Wall-E’s out of a job, surely.
Yeah, he’s got Eve now, but a man who doesn’t bring home the bacon and all that…
12 Angry Men (1957)
The Happy Ending: Juror 3 finally changes his pivotal vote to ‘not guilty’, meaning an innocent man is spared life imprisonment.
The Depressing Implications: The reason Juror 3 wanted the convicted to be guilty?
Because of his bad relationship with his son.
This guy’s not got a particularly happy future, we feel…
The Thing (1982)
The Happy Ending: R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Blair (Wilford Brimley) escape the research station and watch it burn to the ground, taking with it the creepy shape-changing alien.
The Depressing Implications: Yippee, the guys managed to defeat the alien. Right? We mean, they definitely did didn't they?
But now they’re stranded in the snowy Antarctic with little hope for survival.
Also, one of them is probably an alien.
The Happy Ending: Cher (Alicia Silverstone) ends up with the perfect guy – step-brother Josh (Paul Rudd).
The Depressing Implications: Cher’s still a teenager, which means she’s a hormonal mess who’ll probably change her mind about Josh in a New York minute.
Not helping matters, she also lives her life my fashion, the greatest example of ‘out with the old, in with the new’ we can think of.
Sorry Josh, it’s entirely likely you’re for the scrap heap.
The Happy Ending: The Freeman family manage to get back young Carol-Anne (Heather O’Rourke), who’d been kidnapped by things from the beyond, and escape their house just as it implodes.
The Depressing Implications: Sure they survived, but the Freemans now have no home.
And to top it off, Carol-Anne’s been through some serious trauma.
Ignore Poltergeist II and III (and that throwaway line about her not remembering anything) – this girl’s head should be spinning after what she’s seen on the Other Side.
The Happy Ending: The Emperor and his Republic have been defeated, and Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) can party in peace with the Ewoks.
The Depressing Implications: Is it really all that easy?
Not according to astrophysicist Dr Curtis Saxton, whose analysis of the destruction of the Death Star 2 reveals that the Ewok moon Endor would have been completely destroyed by flying shrapnel.
We'll probably find out in 2015 if Wicket and his mates were torn to shreds seconds after the credits rolled.
It'll almost certainly be the opening scene of Episode VII.
Love & Other Drugs (2010)
The Happy Ending: Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) decides to turn down his job in Chicago and stay with sickly Maggie (Anne Hathaway), despite her protestations.
The Depressing Implications: Maggie’s still got early on-set Parkinson’s disease, and her condition will only worsen over time…
The Happy Ending: General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) dies at the hands of evil emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), but reunites with his family in the fields of Elysium.
The Depressing Implications: So there’s a ghostly allusion to the fact that Maximus has reunited with his dead family in the afterlife.
But he’s still ruddy dead, isn’t he?
Blade Runner (1982)
The Happy Ending: Ex-police officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) tracks down the last Replicant, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and watches as he dies on a rooftop.
He then reunites with Rachael (Sean Young).
The Depressing Implications: Deckard’s defeated Roy, but is Deckard himself a Replicant who’ll be consigned to the same fate?
Guess we’ll have to wait for the in-pre-production Blade Runner 2.
The Graduate (1967)
The Happy Ending: Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) gate-crashes Elaine’s (Katharine Ross) wedding and they run away together.
The Depressing Implications: The “So, now what do we do?” looks on both their faces indicate this isn’t actually happily ever after, after all…
The Little Mermaid (1989)
The Happy Ending: Ariel and her fishy friends destroy evil sea-witch Ursula, and the wee sea-maiden bags her man and a band of gold.
The Depressing Implications: Sadly, bagging her man means Ariel has to leave behind her life under the sea and start a new one on land.
Bye-bye family. Bye-bye fishy friends…
The Truman Show (1998)
The Happy Ending: Having discovered his life’s been a reality TV show fake, Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) finds the door to the real world and steps right through it.
The Depressing Implications: Just imagine that scene from Splash! when Daryl Hannah first arrives in New York.
Then add a little Synecdoche, NY.
Yeah, Truman’s in for a rough ride.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Happy Ending: Dorothy (Judy Garland) escapes the clutches of the Wicked Witch, meets the wizard of Oz and returns home with little dog Toto.
The Depressing Implications: So Dorothy’s defeated the Wicked Witch and helped out her animal friends.
Big whoop, she still ends up back in a Great Depression-gripped Kansas…
The Happy Ending: Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) defeats the Alien Queen and tucks young Newt into her cryo chamber for a little sleep.
The Depressing Implications: These guys are just going to float through space again?
Didn’t Ripley learn anything from the Nostromo?
Then there’s Alien 3, which totally destroys any fuzzy feelings the end of Aliens might have left you with.
Pretty Woman (1990)
The Happy Ending: Prostitute Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) is swept off her feet by businessman Edward Lewis (Richard Gere), who’s realised he can’t live without her.
The Depressing Implications: Great, so Vivian got her guy.
Who just so happens to be an egotistical big-spender with a penchant for prostitutes.
Toy Story 2 (1999)
The Happy Ending: After an impressive airport tension-eker, the toys make it back home to owner Andy, who gives them a much-needed tune up.
The Depressing Implications: The entire film’s about what happens to toys when their owners grow up.
And sure enough, Toy Story 3 picks up at that thread (or: threat).
So despite Buzz, Woody and co making it back to Andy, it’s not going to be long before they’re discarded again.
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
The Happy Ending: All is put right in the universe as Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) returns to 1985. For good.
The Depressing Implications: The DeLorean’s been destroyed. Marty’s back with a family he doesn’t actually know.
And, worst of all, the Doc’s pretty much gone forever.
The Happy Ending: Dying lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) wins his case of wrongful dismissal after contracting AIDS.
The Depressing Implications: Beckett wins the case, but he still ends up in a casket.
This is just about the definition of a bittersweet movie ending.
The Happy Ending: “You’re the one that I want!” Danny (John Travolta) and a make-overed Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) reunite at the fairground then ride off into the sky.
The Depressing Implications: In general, we’re all for Olivia Newton-John in a skin-tight catsuit.
But the troubling subtext of Sandy’s transformation is that she’s had to completely do away with everything that makes her Sandy, and conformed to some hyper-sexy rock image that Danny would approve of. Wrong.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The Happy Ending: John Connor (Edward Furlong) and battle-mom Sarah (Linda Hamilton) survive the T-100’s (Robert Patrick) assassination attempt with a helping hand from the T-800.
The Depressing Implications: “There’s no fate but what we make.”
So despite all the hard work the Connors and the T-800 have just put in destroying the T-1000, it’s basically all for nothing because the future’s never set in stone.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The Happy Ending: Ten-year-old Elliot (Henry Thomas) watches on as alien buddy ET is taken home by his family in a shiny, blinking spaceship.
The Depressing Implications: Hurray, ET’s been reunited with his kind and whisked off home amongst the stars.
But boy is that depressing, not least for poor little Elliot, who’s lost his only friend.
Thank goodness the sequel - featuring carnivorous evil albino ETs - never made it past the treatment stage.
Forrest Gump (1994)
The Happy Ending: Forrest’s (Tom Hanks) true love Jenny (Robin Wright) dies, but he’s left with a gorgeous little Forrest Jr (Haley Joel Osment) to give his life meaning.
The Depressing Implications: Jenny dies from an unknown illness.
Considering the time period (this is the ‘80s) and the script's own heavy hints, one could argue she is dying of AIDS.
Therefore, if she gave birth to a child while ill, whatever she had is likely to have passed onto her offspring…
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