Added the following comment to a review of They Might Be Giants on Amazon. I wouldn’t read it if you’ve not seen the film. If you’ve not seen it, I’d highly recommend it, despite it having a strange ending. If you love the film but don’t like the ending, my comment might make you change your mind about how disappointing it is. Then again, maybe it will do no such thing.
I think this is a great review, and pretty much agree with all of it. I can’t remember when I first saw it, on telly, but waited to see it repeated, and it never was. Took maybe two decades before I saw it again. Like many films I loved on first viewing, I felt disappointed when I did get to see it for a second time. Saw it again today, and loved it as much as I did first time round. It was hilarious. Everything you say here sums up what I think. And to some extent I agree with the march of the oddballs that looks embarrasing. And the ending does seem like they didn’t know what to do. But I want to search for a meaning that might keep me happy. And I’ve come up with something.
The other oddballs vanished because the film wasn’t really about them. In many respects, this film reminds me of The Fisher King. When a soulmate dies, the one left behind loses their grip on reality, and goes on a quest: Robin Williams for the holy grail and George C Scott for Moriarty. But in both cases, they are drawn to a woman. Both stories are about the rebirth of the one who lost their soul when their soulmate died. And in They Might Be Giants, neither lovers sought out a romantic relationship. One needed to do her job and protect someone who didn’t seem to need to be locked up for his or anyone else’s protection, the other admitting to feeling lonely as scarcely anyone calls him Sherlock Holmes. She is Dr Watson, and wants to write down everything he says? Can’t be a coincidence, surely. She must be his Dr Watson. They come to need each other, and this need blossoms into real love. You have to be blind not to see that.
Maybe the final scene is symbolic. Maybe it is not meant to be taken literally. We have two people leaving the rest of the world behind, including the other oddballs because they’re not part of this relationship. This is the birth of a new bond, of two new soulmates battling against all the slings and arrows that outrageous fortune has in store for them, personified in the shape of an invisible Moriarty, and they’ll do it together because that’s what romantic love is: a form of insanity. Dr Watson has surrendered to that insanity alongside Sherlock Holmes, happily to share in his playfulness, as children do and as adults who fall in love do every single day. If that’s not what the ending means, I don’t care. I need it to make sense, and it will do for me.