Features and Columns · Movies

The Art of the Animated Dance Party Ending

Don’t worry we only have good things to say about the Shrek franchise.
Fantastic Mr Fox Dance Ending
Searchlight Pictures
By  · Published on February 9th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores dance party endings in movies and how to do them correctly.

Filmmakers want you to leave their films with a specific mood. If it’s a documentary, maybe they close out on a call to action. If it’s a dystopic sci-fi flick, maybe you leave with a pit in your stomach. But for some films, endings are due-cause for celebration. They want you to leave in a good mood, in the afterglow of emotional release. And nothing provides emotional release quite like a dance party.

While the video essay below is focused primarily on the phenomenon as it occurs in animated films, live-action also has its fair share of third-act rug cuts. My personal favorites, for what it’s worth, all include repressed men opening themselves up to the spirit of dance, flailing manically about as their inhibitions melt of them like butter. In Claire Denis’ Beau Travail, Denis Lavant’s uptight legionnaire Galoup dancing solo in a Dijibouti night club. Dogs Don’t Wear Pants concludes the emotional journey of its emotionally numb heart surgeon with an energetic, Hi-NRG scored flail in a BDSM bar. And, more recently, Another Round concludes with Mads Mikkelsen’s Martin joyously letting loose in one of the film’s most iconic moments.

Animated films are another matter altogether. At their best, dance party endings are filled with a spirit of freedom and release. At their worst, especially if they’re done out of a spirit of obligation/laziness, they can be wildly annoying. In the case of animated dance party endings,  Shrek is largely to thank/blame. And as the video essay below brilliantly puts it, the difference between a satisfying and irritating dance party ending comes down to a choice being turned into an expectation. So, without further ado, let’s get into it. Cue the music:

Watch “Dance Party Endings”:

Who made this?

This video on dance party endings in movies is by Karsten Runquist, a Chicago-based video essayist. You can check out Runquist’s back catalog and subscribe to his channel on YouTube here. You can follow Runquist on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).