Credit Cookies

This is a topic I’ve long wanted to write about.  I’ve never been a fan of when movies tend to include little bits of additional footage either during or after their end credits sequence.  These bits are called Credit Cookies and although Hollywood films have occasionally included them since the 1970’s, they’ve now become more popular than ever before thanks to the Marvel films.  Sometimes they can be great, but it’s a practice I’ve never cared for and dislike most of the time.

In all of the performing arts, it’s important to leave your audience with a sense of climax and satisfaction.  I love the wonderful feeling of a film leaving you with a beautiful or haunting final scene (Samwise returning home and saying “Well, I’m back” in LORD OF THE RINGS, Noodles in the opium den in ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, Batman speeding on his Bat-pod in THE DARK KNIGHT, or the beautiful closing montage and narration of PAN’S LABYRINTH), the film fades to black, the audience erupts into thunderous applause as the credits come up, and walk out into the lobby discussing the movie they’ve seen.  Credit Cookies have a way of ruining this.

The earliest example of these were Blooper Reels that played over the credits of usually comedy films.  We get to see actors flub their lines or clown around and have a good time.  THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY has a nice little music video/gag reel for its credits.  Originally, I guess these were included because there was a sentiment of “This is some funny footage that will otherwise just be deleted.  We’re including it because it’s the only way an audience would get to see it.”  Today, however, in the age of DVD extras and Online exclusives, Blooper Reels may be viewed outside of the context of the film itself and are sometimes put on YouTube before the movie’s even out.  There’s no real need to put them during a film’s credits and so the practice has died a bit since the 2000’s.

[Of course the most infamous Blooper Reel in film history is probably the one included during the end credits of BEING THERE, a very moving and profound dramedy containing Peter Sellers‘s best performance and a haunting final scene.  The spell of the film is completely broken by running the end credits over footage of Sellers flubbing lines and breaking out of character.  Sellers hated the film’s inclusion of the Blooper Reel, and claimed it was directly responsible for him not winning the Best Actor Oscar.  I personally think that’s taking it a bit far, but agree that the Blooper Reel completely breaks the beautiful illusion of the film.

On that note, I’d like to bring up two films that use this “break the illusion of the film” technique in a positive way.  THE FAST RUNNER shows behind-the-scenes footage of its own production over its end credits; since the majority of the film has had a docu-neorealist approach in its depiction of an ancient Inuit tribe, this production footage reminds us that it has all been staged and that the story could be occurring in modern times.  And TASTE OF CHERRY flat out breaks the fourth wall by cutting from its lonely, bleak, and minimalist ending to video footage of the film’s own crew making the film you’re watching over a lush, green landscape; this sequence contrasts so sharply to the body of the film, both visually and tonally, that it forces us to reexamine the reality of the story we’ve just sat through.]

Taste of CherryBut then there’s another form of Credit Cookie that I find even worse than the Blooper Reel: little bonus scenes that pop up either during or after the end credits.  Usually they are tiny little tags or stingers that serve as a quick gag or reveal.  You could say these are the equivalent of the “On the Next…” segments of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, but whereas that series utilized that technique in an ironic way to advance the narrative, here these bonus scenes usually just feel like tiny little skits full of anti-climax that kill the buzz of the film.  The justification that fans often give for them is “They’re a nice extra for the true fans who sit through the credits.”  My response to that is “If you only end up annoying the audience, then you’ve defeated that purpose.”

The during-the-credits scenes are definitely the worst, with the worst response I’ve ever seen being MEET THE FOCKERS.  The movie ended, the audiences applauded and quickly got out the seats as the credits began to roll.  Then suddenly a Credit Cookie came up, showing a scene of Robert De Niro and the baby watching hidden camera footage.  The audience quickly got annoyed.  Those who had bolted out of their chairs now stood watching from the aisles and exits, straining their necks.  The overall tone in the cinema was “Huh?  What?  It’s not over yet?  Okay, is it over now?”  As the scene progressed, there was a growing sentiment of “I thought this movie was over and I don’t appreciate that it just tricked me.  This scene is what you kept us for?  Well, let’s see where it goes.  It better be funny.”  It wasn’t; the scene was just a little bumper with little punchline.  Which I’m sure the filmmakers realized and was why they chose to include it as a Credit Cookie rather than within the body of the film.  The audience walked out slightly annoyed, and the movie ended on anti-climatic so-so note, when it could have ended on a satisfying one.

meet_the_fockers_posterThe first NARNIA film had this problem too.  The film ended with a scene of the children tumbling out of the wardrobe, then cut to 30-seconds of credits, before fading back in to an epilogue of Lucy talking to the Professor, realizing she can’t return to the Narnia through the wardrobe, causing the audience to go “Goddamnit!  I thought the movie was over and suddenly it’s not.  Get back in the theatre, Agnes!”  Director Andrew Adamson revealed that this scene was intended to be the ending, but when editing the film, he found the scene too somber and melancholy, and preferred to end with the upbeat note of tumbling out of the wardrobe.  So the film’s true ending got sidelined to a Credit Cookie that not everyone saw.  I think a film’s ending should be dictated by the needs of the story, not the energy-level.  Either you include a scene as part of a movie or you cut it out.  Adamson tried to have it both ways.

[Once again, there’s always an exception.  WILD THINGS used during-the-credits scenes in a satisfying way.  The entire film is a mystery plot full of twists and turns, with the villain not revealed until the climax.  After the film ends, we get several bonus scenes during the credits all repeating crucial plot points of the film, but this time revealing what what was really going on, now that we know who the villain was.  I think the reason these scenes work so well as Credit Cookies is because they “reboot” our perspective of the story and benefit from feeling dislocated from the body of the film.  Better still is that the last of these scenes is actually very satisfying and brings us a feeling of closure.  So in a sense, the movie has two equally satisfying endings]
Wild_things_(movie_poster)So that’s during-the-credits scenes.  As far as post-credit scenes, these are a little better.  These fit the bill of “A little bonus for the fans who stuck around” much better, since by this point the cinema is empty and no one gets annoyed.  I find that these work best when they’re just a cute little bumper; AIRPLANE! and PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES both have little tags that bring a smile to your face.  But when it’s a full-fledged scene it just feels anti-climatic, especially after a long 10-minute credit sequence.  The end-credits of a movie serve an important purpose besides simply giving us the names of crew members.  It’s something that brings closure to our experience of watching the film.  We sit there as the credits play, listening to the music, digesting the film we have just seen.  It’s like a decompression chamber.  To sit through 10 minutes of this and then jump back in to the narrative feels very disorienting.  JINGLE ALL THE WAY actually has a really funny post-credits scene that’s better than the actual ending.  When I discovered it, I actually felt sad, thinking “They robbed themselves of a funny ending by making this scene a Credit Cookie.  If they had made it the proper ending, more people would have seen it, and the movie would actually have been better for it.”
jingle-all-the-way-arnold-and-son-turbo-manOf course, we now have to mention the Marvel movies, which took this practice and ran with it.  Virtually every Marvel movie contains a post-credit scene, with a few also having a during-the-credits scene, usually serving to foreshadow/advertise the next film in the series and reinforce continuity between all the films.  My thoughts?  Clearly it’s become a trademark of the series at this point, though I think audiences are starting to get tired of it.  Take Howard the Duck appearing at the end of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.  This probably sounded funny in theory.  “Hey, what if the most unlikely Marvel property in the world, infamous for being adapted into a notorious bomb, showed up at the end of the movie?  That would really pull the rug out from under the audience’s feet.”  However, when you view the scene within the context of having sat through an entire movie plus 10 minutes of credits, and then be given a minute-long scene that’s just kind of random, the humor is lost.  The 10 minutes of buildup, plus what we’ve gotten from every previous Marvel film, has put too much pressure on this Credit Cookie to deliver.  Maybe this is why the shawarma scene in THE AVENGERS was better received; it drew attention to how pointless it was.
Marvel-Cinematic-Universe-Box-Art_04On a final note, I’d like to end this blog with a story about the time I attended a screening of FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF while in college.  The place was packed and the film played well.  People laughed and gasped in all the right places.  And when the film reaches its proper ending, which is Ferris getting back in bed, fooling his parents, giving us a final soliloquy, and smiling at the camera, the audience was satisfied and ready to head out.  But just when the movie should have ended, a bonus scene started.  The credits rolled over footage of Mr. Rooney walking and being picked up by a school bus.  The audience sat through the scene, waiting for a sense of climax that never comes.  Furthermore, the scene is dragged out; I always got the impression it was intentionally edited to be as slow as possible just so it can last throughout the entire credits.  The scene is somewhat humorous; it shows us how humiliated Rooney has become and how, thanks to Ferris, he’s now on the bus to hell.  But it just drags on and on, and never really reaches a punchline.  When it finally ended, the audience groaned.  “Okay, that was…unnecessary, but it’s over now, right?”  No!  Once the credits ended, a final post-credit scene started of Ferris looking at us and saying “You’re still here?  It’s over!  Go home.  Go.”  The audience groaned again in confusion.  The scene is cutesy, but not really laugh-out-loud funny, and so the movie ended on a weird note.  As I walked out into the lobby, there was a vibe of anti-climax in the air.  Everyone enjoyed the body of the film but felt let down by the Credit Cookies; resulting in the film ending clumsily.  And I vowed right then and there that one day I would write this blog!

THE END

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

You’re still here? 

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

It’s over! 

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

Go home. 

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

Go.

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

p

About these ads

Nerd Out Here...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s