Boys don’t cry. That’s what they say, right? As my girlfriend Alicia and I drove home from seeing The Hunger Games this past Saturday night, I scoffed when she mentioned that she actually felt like crying after one of the characters died. Spoiler alert: the entire plot is about teenagers killing each other in a televised battle to the death. I laughed, partly at the fact that she would cry over one particular character dying when she didn’t say a thing about the 21 others that were killed, and partly because I’m a guy. I’m supposed to brush off the notion of showing any weakly-perceived emotion when it comes to watching movies. Of course, I could sense Alicia rolling her eyes at my contradictory chuckle without even looking away from the road.
There are a number of movies that have made me, the manliest of men, cry like a baby. In my last blog post I revealed my embarrassing little secret about collecting toy trains. This time I’m one-upping myself by taking the embarrassment factor a step further. I present to you the top five movies that make me (and would make any man) cry. To all the guys out there reading this and envisioning me typing at my desk in a tutu, I defy you to watch any one of these and not shed a tear.
5. The Green Mile
Plot: Set against a 1930’s Louisiana backdrop, Tom Hanks’s character Paul is a corrections officer at a state prison when he meets John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan’s character). The towering, yet soft-spoken, African-American man is sentenced to the electric chair after being accused of murdering two young white girls, yet possesses saint-like powers. He has the ability to find the good in others and literally remove their evil.
The Tearjerker: As John is strapped into the electric chair, he requests that the traditional black hood not be put over his head because he is “a-scared of the dark.” Seeming less like a murderer than ever before, John is executed. Lights burst and the building almost comes crumbling down on the spectators, leading some to wonder what or who he really was.
4. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Plot: If you haven’t seen this movie then you live under a rock. Just for consistency’s sake, a peaceful alien is left on planet Earth after his family mistakenly flies away without him. He meets a young boy named Elliot and through friendship, patience and a little slapstick humor, the cute little extra-terrestrial brings the boy’s fracture family back together.
The Tearjerker: Yeah, yeah. Call me crazy for crying over a kids’ movie, but the scene when E.T., Elliot and the rest of the neighborhood kids escape the cops and evil scientists by literally flying over them with their bikes thanks to E.T.’s telekinetic abilities golden. Music is key here as one of the most recognizable scores compliments the heroic effort to get E.T. back to his family, which has come back to Earth looking for him.
3. Saving Private Ryan
Plot: After three of four brothers are killed in combat during World War II, a special troop is assigned to go and retrieve the remaining brother. Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) leads a select group of soldiers through the crumbling French countryside as the often argumentative men struggle trying to find the answer to why one seemingly ordinary man’s life (Private James Ryan played by Matt Damon) is worth risking all of their own.
The Tearjerker: Naturally, the entire movie is filled with scene after scene of gut-wrenching moments. The climax comes when handful of surviving American soldiers defend a key strategic route against an entire German fleet. As Miller lies on the ground after being shot, he whispers his last words, “Earn this,” into Ryan’s ear. The film ends with Ryan standing over Miller’s grave as an old man as he asks his wife if he has been a good man, thus making sure that he earned what those who died for him gave up.
2. Big Fish
Plot: This Tim Burton flick is easily one of the most underrated movies ever. Over time Will (Billy Crudup) has grown tired of the tall tales his father Edward (Albert Finney) has told about his life. The tales all have to do with themes such as giants, werewolves, witches and, naturally, a giant catfish he caught the day Will was born. Young Edward is played by Ewan McGregor and is depicted trolling through all these different adventures as old Edward tells the story of his life one last time with a reluctant and jaded son at his bedside.
The Tearjerker: Minutes away from death, Edward asks Will to take the storytelling reigns. He wants to hear about how his story will ultimately end. Through tears of both sadness and joy, Will creates an elaborate story in which the two of them bust out of the hospital and escape to the river where the big fish was caught. Everyone from the stories is there to see Edward laid to rest. At the funeral, the people from all the stories actually show up as Will realizes that his father was telling the truth all along, just the more entertaining and memorable version of it.
1. Field of Dreams
Plot: It’s one of the most memorable and mysterious movie quotes of all time: “If you build it, he will come.” A mysterious voice from nowhere contacts Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) as he is tending to his farm. Ray believes the “it” refers to a baseball field, which he carves into his cornfield. When the ghosts of dozens of old ballplayers, including the legendary “Shoeless Joe” Jackson (Ray Liotta), show up to play on the field, Ray is still left to wonder who the “he” is and why it is his responsibility to get whoever it is to come.
The Tearjerker: This is not only my number one movie on this list, but it’s pretty much my favorite movie period. The “he” is finally revealed to be Ray’s estranged father, whom he walked out on as a teenager. Though his father passed away decades ago, Ray is given the chance to have the one last catch with his father that he never got to have before. Whether you are a sports fan or not, there is something so poetic about a father having a catch with his son–especially when reconciliation and forgiveness are involved…