I seriously can’t believe I’ve never posted about this. It’s one of the few times in life I’ve been “in on the ground floor” of something — been there enjoying it from the beginning.
It’s doubly cool for being an overlooked secret in plain view. Something like a great restaurant hidden behind a plain door down the street from the obvious places. It isn’t some great secret, these taste delights; it’s that most people walked out too soon and never saw them.
I’m talking about movie cookies (they aren’t something one eats, but they are a delight).
A movie cookie is an extra scene that usually comes at the very end of the movie’s closing credits. They are a fairly modern phenomenon with only a handful of early examples. It mostly takes off in 1980 with one of the funniest movies ever made: Airplane!
Many people, though, are more familiar with the one at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), when Matthew Broderick comes out in his bathrobe and tells everyone to go home. Now Marvel movies have made them mainstream and almost expected in certain situations (certainly in Marvel movies).
A funny aspect of this (at least to me) is how Marvel moved the more important cookies — the ones with information viewers would want to know — much earlier in the credits, to make sure impatient people saw them.
Everyone is in such a hurry these days. I think modern life’s pace gets to people. We’ve forgotten how to savor.
Older movies ran key credits at the beginning, and often ended simply with «The End» and a fade to black as the music swelled and completed.
In some cases, there would be some end credits, but nothing compared to modern end credits, some of which can run almost ten minutes.
Now everyone gets a credit, even the guy who drives the truck that empties the Porta-Potties used on location. (Look for the “Honey truck” credit.)
Do I think this is ridiculous? I do. It’s a product of the everyone is special syndrome that’s infested modern American. (If everyone is special, than no one is special. That’s how special works; it’s special.)
I think it takes something away from the people who truly put something of themselves into the film.
In the film industry, there are above-the-line artists and below-the-line artists and craftspeople. The former, actors, writers, directors, provide the creative input and define the film. The latter apply their skills under the direction of the former.
Older films tended to list the above-the-line artists and only the key below-the-line contributors. Now everyone involved in any way gets a credit. (One can just hear Oprah: “You get a credit, and you get a credit, and you get a credit…”)
As a (once upon a time) film student, I’m all for props to those who invested their talent, skill, art, or craft, to the final product. Films are a massive undertaking requiring considerable planning, coordination of moving pieces, and time-is-money execution.
I consider it almost a duty to sit and watch their names scroll by. If you had spent several months working on some small piece of a film, wouldn’t you like to know someone watched your name go by?
The reward for doing that is the occasional movie cookie.
Truth is, I don’t understand the thinking behind the way everyone tries to immediately leave movies, concerts, and plays, the moment the main action is over. The result, invariably, is standing around in line waiting.
Getting off an airplane, same deal, and the bovine mindlessness of it stuns me. Me, I sit reading my book biding my time. Just as the last passengers are at the exit, I get up with all the elbow room in the world, stretch, get my stuff, and walk down the empty aisle, say goodbye and thank you to the flight crew, and stroll off the plane like I owned it.
[Speaking of bovine, once in the crowd milling towards the turnstile lanes at the Hollywood Bowl, I started mooing. A few people around me joined in, it spread, and for a while the crowd was amusing itself pretending to be cows. (That gets old quickly and only lasted a minute, but it was a stitch.)]
But anyway, why not sit in your theatre seat, enjoy the credits and respect the contributors, and then stroll out like you owned the place?
Sometimes you get a cookie all those other fools missed. And sometimes the cookie is really, really good. If a few rare cases, the cookie is awesome! (I’ll get back to that.)
[Of course, if everyone does starts biding their time, we’ll all be sitting there looking at each other waiting for someone to make a move. It’d be like the no, you hang up first dilemma.]
This post was inspired by an article I read recently in The Guardian. It was written by film composer, Daniel Pemberton.
It not only reminded me about movie cookies but pointed out an annoying problem with streaming services. The article is called: The end of credits: why doesn’t Netflix want us to watch them?
The title says it all. If you have a streaming service, you’ve seen the problem (although perhaps you don’t see it as a problem). These services cut short the end credits to push the next thing to view on you. That works out if you are binging a TV show, but it wrecks movie end credits.
Further, as Pemberton points out, the end credit score is designed to give you time to sit and reflect on the movie. That’s the other big reason to not jump to your feet and queue up for a cattle call exit — savor what you saw!
You’ve just been taken for a two-hour ride; now let it sink in.
A close cousin of the movie cookie is the movie outtake. The Jackie Chan movies were famous for clips of where his stunts went wrong. (Some of them involving severe injury.)
Pixar introduced the fake outtake in the end credits of A Bug’s Life (1998) and used the idea in many of their later films. (Animated characters, obviously, can’t flub their lines.)
The distinction between an outtake and a cookie is that a cookie is an intentional part of the story. An outtake is a mistake.
Comedies generally lend themselves to the meta-nature of cookies (let alone outtakes — Peter Sellers’ outtakes of cracking up during filming of Being There actually kind ruins, or at least changes, the mood of the film).
The notable exception is the Marvel movies which use them to tease future developments. (Even some of the Marvel cookies are humorous, though.)
For my money, the best cookies ever are in the seamy steamy Florida noir movie Wild Things (1998).
Noir films involve crime with an emphasis on seamy sex and betrayal. The Maltese Falcon (1941) is a classic example (and a favorite of mine). Florida noir is film noir with the addition of steamy tropical heat. The classic is probably Key Largo (1948) with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Edward G. Robinson.
The modern epitome of Florida noir is another favorite: Body Heat (1981), which is Kathleen Turner’s first appearance in film.
[BTW: Body Heat was written and directed by one of my favorite filmmakers, Lawrence Kasdan, who also did Grand Canyon (a Top Fave Five of mine) and Dreamcatcher, a rather interesting alien invasion monster film.]
Anyway, Wild Things has all the humidity and sex Florida noir requires.
The plot constantly teases. Time after time it surprises with a left turn that changes what you thought you knew about what’s going on. When the movie finally ends, and you walk out ignoring the credits, you’ll have a version of what happened.
But not the right version. Several clips during the credits, once again, completely change the meaning of events in the movie. You haven’t actually seen the movie until you’ve seen those clips. (Reading the Wiki article is cheating.)
It’s truly astonishing, and it’s funny to think about all the people who missed knowing the actual story.
I suppose some might think it’s unfair, but that’ll teach ya to walk out before the proper end of the movie. I think it’s fair game!
Stay seated, my friends!