Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crying at the movies: a memoir.

Last night, after my birthday movie, I came home to find myself tagged in this post on my son's wall:

"It turns out the lady was your mom." I will pause so that you may reflect.

Well, I do have a long and storied career as a movie cryer. Here are a few movies I have sobbed like a motherless child at:
  • The Way We Were
  • Terms of Endearment
  • Stepmom
  • The Notebook
  • Marley & Me
  • Titanic, obv.
  • uh, every single Harry Potter movie, probably. More on this later.
I have also cried like crazy at indie movies, such as:
  • Summer Hours
  • Friends with Money
  • Whalerider
  • Into the West
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Things You Can Tell By Looking At Her
  • Blue Valentine
  • Bright Star
  • The Fall
and probably a whole bunch more that I may or may not care to mention. The Sex and the City movie, for instance, after Mr. Big stands Carrie up, sort of, at their wedding and she looks so miserable. Or, like, parts of Superbad, which the relevant youngest son pointed out to me wasn't remotely poignant to him. Or Into the Wild, with director Sean Penn pulling the cry-now strings like mad.

My kids like to say that I cried at a Rugrats movie, and maybe at a Pokemon movie. I don't know. I'd like to see their evidence--we all know from about a billion Law & Orders that eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable. But I will not deny that if a movie tugs at my heartstrings, I am generally happy to oblige, although sometimes if movies are trying to work me, I resist. I'm not that easy. Okay, I am. But sometimes the weep machinery is just too much, and in those circumstances, I stay dry-eyed.

Usually, though, I cry. And I don't particularly care. So what? Why bother to think of sports? I used to cry a lot about life-y things, and sometimes I still do. But these days, I just don't like it--it makes me feel bad, and my eyes get puffy, and it's all just too tragic. At a movie, though: crying at a movie lets you release feelings that need to be released (see: catharsis), but mostly in a limited, self-contained way. I don't usually cry too much (except for at Marley & Me, and Stepmom, and Terms of Endearment--I wept so much in those movies I had to take to my bed afterward to recover. And if one of them comes on on cable--forgetaboutit.), but frankly, it feels a little bit cleansing.

Anyway. In July, a bunch of people, including my daughters and me, went to see the most recent Harry Potter, I pretty much full-on sobbed when (seriously? you haven't seen/read it yet? what is wrong with you? spoiler alert) Snape died. After the movie ended, my daughter with the wicked wit said, "Are you okay?"

Yep. Just fine. Now leave me alone, I'm fishing for my Kleenex.


  1. I cried at the end of Bridesmaids when the rich lady who is co-opting the whole wedding reveals that she's just lonely and needs approval. I resented this movie for making me do that.

  2. Just for the record: Into the West is one of my favorite movies ever.

    Also, did you happen to hear this episode of This American Life? Act 4 has a guy talking about crying on airplanes, which totally cracked me up.

  3. I love a good cry at the movies. How about crying at The Family Stone. No fair marketing that as a fun feel good romcom. Total suckerpunch to the gut. The movies we have cried in...

  4. Honestly, how can it be a good movie if it leaves me with dry eyes? Except movies like Elephant Man which are so hugely heroically tragic that I can't cry but just stand there witnessing (standing inwardly even if seated).

  5. I cry a lot, which is a problem. Especially in public! So when I feel the tears start to well up, I focus on a random word (such as "lozenge") and say it over and over in my head as a diversionary tactic.

    Thinking about sports, however, might be more fun.

  6. I sometimes watched "The Way We Were" in order to cry.
    I also cried at "Our Idiot Brother" with the final dog scene. C'mon. A dog!!
    I cry at movies a lot, sometimes because I am mad at the movie for making me cry.



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