Good Scene / Bad Scene

Chosen by Mark S Waters, the director of 'Mean Girls'
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The Independent Culture

THE GOOD: The Parent Trap, Nancy Meyers, 1998

The movie ends when the story is over, and that's the very definition of how directors should handle their dramaturgy. Early on Hallie and Annie (both girls are played by Lindsay Lohan, who's also in Mean Girls) realise they are identical twins, but their parents' divorce meant they grew up apart.

After meeting and hanging out together, they realise their goal is to somehow manoeuvre their parents back together again. They go through these zany hi-jinks and every manner of manipulation - including pretending they are one another. Most Americans can't do an English accent to save their lives, but Lohan's American-pretending-to-be-London accent is perfect. I showed Jamie Lee Curtis this movie when I was casting Lohan alongside her in Freaky Friday, and she honestly thought the twins were played by two different actresses - that's how good Lohan is here.

Finally the father (played by Dennis Quaid) travels to London and finds his ex-wife (Natasha Richardson). The two twins watch as the couple hug and kiss. They giggle and fall down laughing and the movie fades to black. It's a fantastically satisfying scene. It's satisfying because everything is paid off in that one, last moment.

THE BAD: The Prince of Tides, Barbra Streisand, 1991

In direct contrast, this movie is the very definition of bad dramaturgy. It sets up the story and what's at stake; they are resolved, and then the movie continues for another 45 minutes! My bad scene would be every other scene after this point.

The film is about a guy (played by Nick Nolte) whose sister attempts to commit suicide for the seventh time and he's called to New York to deal with the situation. He ends up talking to her psychiatrist, Dr Susan Lowenstein (played by Barbra Streisand), and through their meetings, she unearths the dark family secret that they've all blocked from their memories up until now.

In the course of doing therapy with Streisand's psychiatrist character, and through much struggle, Nolte finally makes his breakthrough. There's a cathartic scene where he cries and is finally able to admit to the abuse they'd suffered as children. The sister sees him and they hug each other and realise they've finally gotten through it. It's resolved. The movie is over.

But then they decide to show you a love affair between the psychiatrist and the brother. You're thinking: why am I still watching this? What's even worse is that the movie continues in the form of a vanity project for Streisand, and there are lots of lingering close-ups of her.