Los­ing is win­ning

Not all happy end­ings are about get­ting what you want.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - by AMy de KAnTeR

The end­ing of the 2000 cheer­leader movie Bring It On was a com­plete sur­prise, and a sat­is­fy­ing one. In most movies about com­pe­ti­tions there is a clear au­di­ence favourite, usu­ally the un­der­dog, the scrawny David who beats the mus­cu­lar and of­ten evil Go­liath. In Bring It On the sit­u­a­tion was not as clear cut.

“Our” team was a group of priv­i­leged girls who were used to win­ning in the Cheer­lead­ing Fi­nals but when new cap­tain Tor­rance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) takes over, she learns that the rea­son they had won so many tro­phies was be­cause their for­mer cap­tain had had no qualms about cheat­ing.

Her team, The Toros, had been steal­ing rou­tines from an in­ner city team, the Clovers. Tor­rance is now de­ter­mined to lead her team to vic­tory the right way which means cre­at­ing new rou­tines and work­ing harder than ever.

In the fi­nals, the Toros and the Clovers fi­nally face off, each giv­ing the per­for­mance of a life­time. The Clovers win.

When the boy Tor­rance likes asks her how it feels to come in sec­ond, she grins and says: “It feels like first.”

This was a fan­tas­tic end­ing be­cause un­til we got it we did not know that was ex­actly the end­ing we wanted. The au­di­ence had been, af­ter all, root­ing for both teams and did not want ei­ther of them to be the loser.

But why does not win­ning im­ply los­ing? Cer­tainly we are con­di­tioned to think in this man­ner; that win­ning is all that counts, but as Bring It On showed, some­times it can be just as great not to get what we want.

Here are some more ex­am­ples of films that give “losers” a happy end­ing.

It’s A Won­der­ful Life

A clas­sic among clas­sics, this 1946 Christ­mas favourite is the story of Ge­orge Bai­ley, a young man who dreams of leav­ing the lit­tle town he grew up in.

Fate has other plans for him and ev­ery time it looks like he might be able to get away, even for a lit­tle while, some emer­gency comes up and he has to change his plans.

We feel sorry for Ge­orge, who is a vic­tim of his own good heart.

The emer­gen­cies are of­ten things he could choose to ig­nore, but he is kind and gen­er­ous and will­ingly sac­ri­fices him­self to help oth­ers.

The con­stant dis­ap­point­ments do take their toll over time and Ge­orge be­comes de­pressed be­liev­ing that his whole life has come to noth­ing.

It takes the help of an an­gel to show Ge­orge ex­actly how far he has gone – and taken oth­ers – by stay­ing right where he is.


Not get­ting your dear­est wish al­ready goes against the Amer­i­can dream, and per­haps that is why the ex­tra­or­di­nary and in­spi­ra­tional Amer­i­can foot­ball film, Rudy, gets over­looked.

It is about a boy who wants more than any­thing to play for his uni­ver­sity team.

The part of Rudy is played by Sean Astin, and those who re­mem­ber him as Sam in The Lord Of The Rings can see right away what the prob­lem is.

On the field Rudy does re­mind one of a hob­bit among Orcs, with about as much chance of beat­ing them in a game where brute strength is es­sen­tial.

There is no mir­a­cle, there is no sur­prise, Rudy is barely al­lowed to play, let alone score, yet be­comes the team’s most val­ued player.

My Best Friend’s Wed­ding

Ju­lia Roberts’ char­ac­ter Ju­lianne has fi­nally de­cided that she is in love with her best friend and wants to marry him. Un­for­tu­nately, he is en­gaged to some­one else.

She fails at split­ting up the happy cou­ple, she does not get her man, but it is at her low­est point that Ju­lianne re­alises, there is room for more than one best friend in her life.

Lit­tle Miss Sun­shine

If any of you bet that I could not get through the year with­out men­tion­ing Lit­tle Miss Sun­shine at least one more time, you’re wel­come.

Among the best movies of all time, Lit­tle Miss Sun­shine is about a lit­tle girl who trav­els cross coun­try to be in a beauty pageant.

Not only does she lose the pageant, she loses spec­tac­u­larly and in the fun­ni­est, most up­lift­ing way imag­in­able.

You’ve Got Mail

Kath­leen Kelly (Meg Ryan) owns a lit­tle book­store in New York City. It used to be her mother’s and Kath­leen prac­ti­cally grew up in it.

In comes the en­emy of small shops ev­ery­where – the su­per­store – of­fer­ing longer hours, a big­ger se­lec­tion and bet­ter prices.

The su­per book­store is be­ing opened by su­per busi­ness­man Joe Fox (Tom Hanks).

When he falls in love with Kath­leen we hope that this means he will step away from the fight and let her lit­tle store sur­vive. He doesn’t and it doesn’t, and de­spite this Kath­leen ends up with a dif­fer­ent hap­pily ever af­ter.

Muriel’s Wed­ding

Muriel (Toni Col­lette) is a loser. Even her own fam­ily doesn’t like her much.

Un­like her pretty and con­fi­dent chums, Muriel is big and awk­ward and has the per­son­al­ity of a boiled potato. Girls her age are boy crazy and their big dream of a beau­ti­ful wed­ding some­how be­comes Muriel’s dream as well.

When Muriel fi­nally makes a friend (Rachel Grif­fiths) it changes her life but not her dream.

Un­like the pro­tag­o­nists of other films on this list, to Muriel’s great mis­for­tune her wish comes true and she has the per­fect wed­ding to a hand­some man.

By the time she re­alises her mis­take, Muriel has lost a lot, some of it ir­re­vo­ca­bly. Sad­der and wiser, Muriel finds the courage to ask for and get what re­ally mat­ters.

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