Here’s Why Charlie Kaufman’s ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ Has a Fake Robert Zemeckis Film

Kaufman’s cheesy film-within-his-bleak-film is credited to the “Back to the Future” creator

Last Updated: September 6, 2020 @ 12:50 PM

With films like “Forrest Gump” and “Back to the Future,” Robert Zemeckis and his films are a far cry from the often bleak and always existential works of Charlie Kaufman. But a random choice by one of Kaufman’s editors has connected the two together in his newest film, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.”

In one “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” scene, Kaufman introduces a film-within-a-film about a cafe waitress who gets fired after her boyfriend makes a scene while she’s working. When the credits roll, Zemeckis is credited as the director. On its Twitter page, Netflix revealed that it wasn’t actually Kaufman’s idea to make Zemeckis the director of the film. In fact, his script didn’t call for anyone specific to be its director.

With no guidance from the script, a member of the film’s editing team decided to take Zemeckis’ name from the credits of his alien sci-fi film “Contact” and put it in as a placeholder. When Kaufman saw the credits while reviewing the footage, he broke out laughing and asked for Zemeckis’ permission to put it in the final cut.

While the cheesy fake Zemeckis film may be a silly gag, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is anything but silly. Starring Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette and David Thewlis, the film follows the life of a janitor named Jake, who takes his girlfriend to meet his parents. From that simple premise comes Kaufman’s brand of surrealistic, bizarre and bleak exploration of loneliness, mortality, and the dark side of the human condition.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is now streaming on Netflix.