Thursday, March 28, 2013

Riske Business: Movies That Make You Cry

We’ve gone almost 3 years into our dialogue of movies without addressing the whole MOVIES THAT MAKE YOU CRY topic. Let’s knock it out.

Crying at a movie is sometimes SO GOOD. It’s a badge of honor that we only share with ourselves or those there watching the movie with us. The best is when it sneaks up on you. You get that rush inside and all of a sudden tears pop out of your ocular holes. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; feelings are feelings because we can’t control them.

Ever have an experience where you know you’re close to crying and you just start to WILL it out? That one tear rolls down your cheek and it’s like "Yeah, you’ve earned this, movie…I’m just going to let it roll." Sometimes -- not often -- you get the profuse sobs. Other times you get the mini-cry, where you have a cry-rush to your eyeballs but nothing falls out. These count for half. If the movie has two of these, then you can say it made you cry.

Some people are easy criers. These people are not to be trusted. These are the people who cry when a movie tells them they should cry. None of us are those people. We’re beautiful snowflakes that cry on our own terms!

To get things going, I went through my collection (plus recalled some recent favorites) and remembered those chestnuts that made me a puddle of tears. Here is what I learned:

Lesson 1: I am most prone to crying from scenes of characters showing that they care about or love someone else.
Lesson 2: Music cues have a lot to do with causing me to tear up.
Lesson 3: I normally cry at signifiers that have to do with recognition of events or relationships from my own life or missed opportunities I have personally felt.
Lesson 4: I cry more at moments of coping with death/tragedy than the actual tragedies themselves.
Lesson 5: Happy moments make me cry more than sad moments.

In the words of the Terminator: “Why do you cry?” Leave your comments!


About a Boy
Antwone Fisher
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Brokeback Mountain
Cast Away
City Slickers
Disney’s The Kid
Field of Dreams
Finding Neverland
Five Easy Pieces
Fools Rush In
Free Willy
Good Morning Vietnam
Good Will Hunting
It’s a Wonderful Life
Jacob’s Ladder
The Karate Kid
La Bamba
The Last Detail
Life of Pi
Lilo & Stitch
Malcolm X
Matchstick Men
Moonrise Kingdom
The Muppet Movie
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
My Dog Skip
My Girl
October Sky
Only the Lonely
On the Waterfront
Ordinary People
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
The Princess Diaries
Punch Drunk Love
The Pursuit of Happyness
Remember the Titans
Rocky II
Rocky Balboa
Roman Holiday
Saturday Night Fever
The Shawshank Redemption
Silver Linings Playbook
The Sixth Sense
Source Code
Stand by Me
Tokyo Sonata
We Bought a Zoo
West Side Story
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape


  1. Terrific post. Just about all your conditions apply to me as well. I'm particularly vulnerable to the well-placed music cue. And I totally agree with being more affected when someone is doing something nice for someone else. Here are some films I try to avoid on my "weepy" days:

    Up - the first 10 minutes are so emotionally devastating I actually have to prepare myself mentally before watching it.

    Searching for Bobby Fischer - The moment when Bruce visits Josh in the hotel room, before the big game? Gets me every time.

    Ikiru - The ending (of course).

    Jackie Brown - When Max doesn't go with her. It's perfect for the character, but WHY? When he asks the lady on the phone to call him back, and walks quietly back to his office, I just want to scream at him to go track her down.

    ET The Extraterrestrial - I don't need to explain this one, do I? Just listening to the music is enough to get me to tear up.

    1. I've been meaning to watch Searching for Bobby Fischer for 20 years. I think I'll end that streak this weekend :-)

      I can totally see where you're coming from with Max Cherry in Jackie Brown. If I had to guess why (and I agree with you it is perfect for his character)...he doesn't seem to be the type of guy that makes big moves in his life. He resigned himself to being the guy who goes in and does his job and have a quiet dignity which just shows you how sad he is. He'll risk a lot of things for someone he loves but he won't do these things for himself. I think Jackie is too larger-than-life for him.

  2. I'm glad you have provided us with a safe place to share our softer side. We will all be a closer community for it.

    It's weird but a lot of movies that have made me cry involve puppets and animation.

    E.T. - When Elliot's puppet alien friend is laying there all lifeless and gray (or grey for those who prefer it) I couldn't help but let the tears stream down my cheek.

    Iron Giant- Don't tell me robots don't have souls!

    Toy Story 3 - Those toys...those toys...why do I care so much about those toys! I feel like they did a better job of emoting real feeling than any James Franco movie or Oscar hosting ever did.

    and I know Adam that you have created this safe zone but it is still with aguarded heart that I share the gentle.

    Les Miserables - Music is a powerful emotional medium and I cried like a baby when I listened to my princess sing her version of I Dreamed A Dream.

    Keep up the great work Adam!
    Diddy out!

  3. Music is a big one for me. It's to the point where just hearing a few notes from the scores to both Super 8 and Cloud Atlas can get me crying. I don't cry in many movies, though.

    1. Neither do I. It was difficult coming up with a list of 67 that I could remember. I've been wanting to re-watch Cloud Atlas since you named it your favorite movie from last year. Of course it's the one movie they decided not to release 3 months after its theatrical release date :-(

  4. You hit on at least one of mine with 50/50. When JGL finds Seth Rogen's "Facing Cancer Together" book, I just break down at how beautiful that moment is. Most recently, Silver Linings Playbook brought out my more emotional side, as well.

    1. I really liked how they handled the book thing in 50/50. They could have so easily had clunker lines like "you know I've been reading this book and they said..."

  5. I'm with you on 1, 2 and 5 - I'm fortunate enough not to have regrets of enough significance I would cry about them and Death - pfft - I laugh in the face of Death (especially when portrayed by William Sadler). Death only gets me when there's a lot of meaning behind it - e.g. William Wallace in Braveheart - I don't cry because Melly gets killed, I cry because his heart was so brave (I JUST got the title!).

    And yeah, music can really get me - I'm with Patrick on Super 8 - but really, can't say I cry very often at movies these days - they came pretty easy when I was younger but I've apparently dried up in my old age! Even Up, as touching as it was, didn't come close - those old fuckers lived a long, happy life - SOMEONE had to die first - get over it! ;)

  6. I'm a sucker at crying at movies where animals(especially dogs) and kids die. This includes HUGE SPOILERS "Marley & Me", "My Dog Skip", "The Boy with the Striped Pajamas", "All Dogs Go to Heaven", etc. The truth is most of these movies aren't great(Marley & Me) and are very manipulative(The Boy with the Striped Pajamas).

    Also, the last three minutes of "Edward Scissorhands" kill me everytime.

  7. I never cried at Up which almost disappointed me the first time I saw it. There was all this build up about critics taking off their 3D glasses because their tears fogged them up. I never got that, though the opening is really sweet and wonderful.

  8. For me, it wasn't the opening montage that made me cry at Up but when Carl finds the scrapbook again later on in the movie.

    As for Toy Story 3, the scene that made me tear up was when Andy was giving away the toys to the little girl at the end because that was ME giving away MY childhood toys to a neighbour before going to college.

    Lastly, I agree with Grave of the Fireflies (sobbing just thinking about it)

    1. I'm glad you mentioned Carl's finding of the scrapbook near the end. It's a tearjerking moment, all right, but it's followed by that incredibly cathartic sequence of Carl dumping the house's contents to make it lighter - literally "cleaning house." From tears of sadness to tears of joy...

  9. Great list Adam, although one notable exception nobody has brought up Old Yeller, just see Stripes you'll know what I am talking about. I don't do the crying thing myself too often but I will get this feeling go up my spine which will just shake my core. Its been a while since I have had that feeling.

    My quick trail of tears in no particular order:
    Monsters Inc
    Green Mile
    Finding Nemo
    The Majestic
    Iron Giant
    to just name a few

  10. Some movies tend to lose their sting in this department after repeated views, so this list is of the ones never fail.

    Field of Dreams
    The Sixth Sense
    Dolls (ドールズ) 2002
    When the Last Sword is Drawn (壬生義士伝) 2003

    There are others but those come immediately to mind.

  11. The epilogue of A League of Their Own...

  12. A League of Their Own is such a good movie :-)

  13. Jeeze, Riske, might have been faster for you to list the movies that don't make you cry!


    Fluke (curse you, Matthew Modine!) and the scene in the rain near the end of Click (leading to some weird simultaneous misty eye/arousal moments when present-day Kate Beckinsale comes back around).