Sometimes, you just need a good cry—and we're not talkin' about one of those "a single dainty tear steaks down your cheek" deals, but the kind of sobbing that leaves your face so puffy you look like your having an allergic reaction to your own emotions. When you're in the mood to get your hysterical weep on, there's no better way to do it than with the comforting accompaniment of a classic Hollywood film.
There are some movie moments that are widely used to induce the waterworks: Jack freezes to death so Rose can live; Forest cries over Jenny's grave; someone shoots Old Yeller. But none of these traditionally tragic scenes do it for me. They're sad, to be sure, but for me, there are only three bits of movie magic that can elicit a my boyfriend just dumped on my birthday which is also Valentines Day level reaction.
The first, and possibly most understandable is the funeral scene at the end of My Girl. A tiny Macaulay Culkin lies in a tiny coffin, which is just enough to get my eyes pricking. Even as his already severely psychologically damaged BFF peers at his lifeless body, insisting they outfit his mini corpse with his now-useless glasses, I can take it. It's the line, "He was going to be an acrobat, " that gets me. Dammit, Macualay, why'd you have to go near that beehive? WHY?!
I never got the concept of happy tears until I saw the end of Homeward Bound. You cry when you fail your big test, or your ex leaves the kind of romantic note on his new girlfriend's wall that he never left you, or if you're already having a bad day and then you hit your elbow really, really hard. Tears clearly equal sucky situations. But I'm never as happy and tear-soaked as when Shadow, the wise old golden retriever, climbs over the hill to be reunited with his owner. Up until that point the audience is thinking that the film's furry, adorable protagonist has been left in a dirty ditch to eventually die of starvation. But then he's alive! He's limp-running, which is impressive and endearing! Those directors knew what they were doing.
And then there's A Little Princess. The penultimate scene proves if you want to add pathos to a scene between a father and child, "pops," "dad," or even "daddy" isn't going to cut it; it's got to be "papa." It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly when this little bit of cinema starts shredding my heart into tiny, tiny pieces. It could be when Sarah's dad (sorry, papa) tries to get away from her with the ferocity and light touch of someone trying to get away from a plague victim. It might be when Sarah's being manhandled by the cops, still screaming for her papa, in the pouring rain. But it's probably when Miss Minchin redefines cold-hearted when she's all, Sarah's father, nope definitely not,maybe kind of looks like him, in a certain light, but no, kid's crazy. Thank goodness that movie has a happy ending, or I would have lost all faith in the British boarding school system.
So if you're keen to be reduced to a blubbering mess, look no further than the films above—and make sure you have some highly-absorbent paper towels at the ready, because Kleenex just aren't going to cut it.
Which movies never fail to make you cry? For some reason, we always break down at the end of Blue Crush, when Penny shouts "That's my sister!" Hey, they're happy tears. Don't judge us.
Related post: What to Do When You're Going to Cry During a Movie