There are certain movies that’ll always make you shed a tear no matter how many times you’ve seen ’em. It’s science. Even though you’ve mentally prepared yourself for the inevitable death, heartbreak, sickness, and/or tragedy that you already know is coming, the moment that scene plays out on the screen, you know you’re in trouble. Without fail, those big, fat teardrops suddenly begin to cascade down your cheeks with absolutely no sign of letting up! For me, these are the movies guaranteed to provoke a serious sob fest. (Spoilers ahead!) Brace yourself – here come the waterworks!
The year was 1998. I was in the 4th grade and this movie had just come out in theaters. A friend of mine opted to have an “At the Movies” themed birthday party that year and her flick pick was this Susan Sarandon/Julia Roberts dramedy. Julia Roberts? Okay, I’ll bite. I had no idea what this movie was about, but Julia Roberts was in it! I’d seen her in Pretty Woman, Hook, My Best Friend’s Wedding – this was sure to be a feel good comedy! Once the lights dimmed, I settled into my seat and started to stuff my face with popcorn and jujyfruits. I was ready to escape to movie land and laugh to my heart’s content! Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that this movie was nothing like the other Julia Roberts movies I’d seen. Although there were some comedic undertones, Stepmom was truly a tearjerker. The movie revolves around a terminally ill mother dying of cancer (Sarandon) and the way in which she deals with her ex-husband’s new, and much younger, soon-to-be wife (Roberts). What WAS funny was how quickly ten precocious, little girls began sobbing uncontrollably in the theater.
You know when you’re trying to hold back tears and you suddenly experience that annoying sensation that something is stuck in the middle of your throat? Yeah, that’s how I feel every time I sit down to watch The Notebook. What’s sadder than an old-fashioned love story that ends with one of the pair succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease? Nothing, that’s what. It’s the 1940s in South Carolina and Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) are young and in love. Of course, they come from two different worlds and certain people want to see them apart. Their relationship ends in a heart-wrenching sort of way, but they eventually rekindle their romance and live happily ever after. That is, until we find out that the dual storyline of an old man reading this exact love story to an old woman with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home is actually the older versions of Allie and Noah! Pass the tissues, please! If you’ve ever been in love (and you have grandparents) this movie will certainly strike a chord.
Stupid is as stupid does. Snivel. Forrest Gump is one of my all time favorite movies. I just love how the storyline takes the audience on a journey through time, showing major, historical events unfold through the eyes of an intellectually challenged individual. But despite the fantastic plot and sensational lineup of characters, the film is not without it’s fair share of heartbreaking moments. Forrest’s (Tom Hanks) unyielding love for the deeply troubled and terribly tragic Jenny. Forrest’s mother gettin’ the cancer and dying on a Tuesday. Lieutenant Dan losing his legs. Bubba dying right there by that river in Viet-NAM. And as soon as big Forrest bends down in front of Jenny’s grave and places little Forrest’s letter under that tree, I just lose it!
I grew up on Disney movies. (What kid didn’t?) But in addition to watching all of the animated flicks on repeat, my siblings and I fell hard for Old Yeller. Set in Texas post-Civil War, simply put, Old Yeller is about a boy and his dog. Boy meets dog. Boy hates dog. Boy learns to love dog. Boy and dog experience a ton of adventures together. Dog saves boy from rabid wolf. Dog gets rabies. Boy must shoot dog. Dog dies. That about sums up the movie, doesn’t it? Are you crying yet?
Let’s face it, if you don’t cry while watching Titanic then you have no soul! When this movie came out in 1997, I went to go see it with my mom and sister. What with all the hype surrounding this blockbuster, the theater was jam packed with people. I can remember having to sit next to an older woman who hogged the armrest like it was her chief calling in life. We even exchanged a few vicious elbow jabs and snarky, whispered remarks. But once the Titanic struck the iceberg, we immediately lightened up on one another. We both yelled at the screen when Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) is arrested and handcuffed to a pipe down below. We both gasped in horror when Rose (Kate Winslet) is struggling to find him (giant ax in tow) before the bottom decks flood. And we nearly embraced one another in sadness when Rose didn’t make enough room on that GIANT door for Jack. By the time Jack dies and slowly sinks down into the Atlantic Ocean, that old battle-axe and I were best friends.
Father of the Bride
This movie is particularly fitting for my current life situation since I’m in the midst of planning a wedding with my own mother and father. Steve Martin plays the title role in this comedy about a father, George Banks, whose number one concern in life is how much his daughter’s wedding is going to cost him. (Dad, are your ears ringing??) George doesn’t care what flavor the cake should be or which type of flowers should adorn the altar. Instead, he keeps a close eye on his bank account and succumbs to mini freak-outs each time his balance goes down a cent. This 1991 version of Father of the Bride is a remake of the original starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor, but it’s the only version I knew as a kid growing up, and it’s the only version that makes me cry. Watching the flashback scenes of George with his little girl, Annie, always seems to tug at my heartstrings and I instantly begin to picture myself as that little girl shooting hoops with dad in the driveway. Hmm, come to think of it, I wonder if I have my own father’s mini freak-outs to look forward to.
The Breakfast Club
I know, this isn’t your typical tearjerker. In fact, it’s not really a tearjerker at all! But hear me out. This 1985 John Hughes film follows a group of misfit high school students as they ride out their detentions together in the school’s library on a Saturday. A Saturday! (No, that’s not the reason this movie makes me cry.) It’s all fun and games during the majority of the day with the teenagers playing pranks on the assistant principal and running amok through the halls. But fast-forward to the scene where the athlete, the princess, the criminal, the basket case, and the brain are all sitting in a circle sharing stories about their life and your disposition will instantly change. Abusive households, a constant pressure from friends and family to fit in or be the best, suicide. Things get real! Hell, I even shed a tear at the end of the movie when John Bender (ahem, the criminal) walks through the school’s football field and pumps his fist in the air! But then I’ve always been the sensitive type.
I went to go see Up with a few of my friends back when it first came out in 2009. I was actually pretty hesitant to even give Up a chance. After all, aren’t animated films just for kids? Turns out, they’re not. The first ten minutes of the movie tell the story of Carl (Ed Asner) and Ellie (Elizabeth Docter). First we see them as two 8-year-old children who idolize the famous explorer, Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), and go on adventures of their very own. As the years go by, we see all of Carl and Ellie’s ups and downs through life. They get married, they restore an old house together, and they suffer a miscarriage. But they persevere and save up to visit a place they’ve always wanted to go called Paradise Falls. Then suddenly, Ellie dies. Believe me when I tell you that I was legitimately balling within those first ten minutes. The three friends I had gone to the movies with all looked down the row at me and just started to laugh. (It should be said that I’m pretty bad at hiding my emotions.) The rest of the film takes the audience through Carl’s final adventure as he literally flies his house (with 10,000 balloons!) to Paradise Falls. Do yourself a favor and check this movie out! Just make sure you have plenty of tissues on hand.