It seems odd to think that many of us choose to spend our time in front of the big screen in tears, but crying seems to indicate a quality flick in many cases. Whether you are shedding tears of joy when the main character finally triumphs or lamenting the loss of a favorite, tear-jerker movies never go out of style. While my opinions may be slightly flawed (after all, I cried at Bambi all 17 times I watched it), I believe I can shed some light on the best films to rent if you want a good cry on a Friday night.
10. Old Yeller
There is nothing more touching than a boy and his dog and Old Yeller and Travis tug on our heartstrings from the first moment the two connect. Old Yeller proves himself to be eternally loyal to Travis and the rest of his family – even to the point of fighting off a rabid wolf. Unfortunately, the wolf means the long and painful end of Old Yeller and a devastating decision for Travis. It’s a multi-tissue movie that does provide a happy finale – thank goodness for all of us who suffer through to the bitter end.
Forget the fact that Patrick Swayze is at his sexiest in this chick flick – the scene with the pottery wheel is sure to bring out the romance and the tears in all but the toughest. Dealing with the loss of someone close to senseless violence is a subject that most of us fear too much to ever think about too seriously, but Ghost handles the experience with heart-wrenching finesse.
8. Terms of Endearment
Isn’t this on everyone’s list of best tear jerkers? There is nothing sadder than watching a child die, no matter how old she might be, and Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine portray this scenario brilliantly. And how about the moment when Debra Winger bids farewell to her two young sons? Pass the Kleenex.
7. Gone with the Wind
After a four-hour commitment to the characters of this epic film, you would like to see at least one of them enjoy a happy ending. Instead, numerous characters meet their demise and the rest resign themselves to the devastation and hopelessness that lie ahead. Does it help that Scarlett shows renewed spunk and spirit at the end of the film? Most of us would have rather seen her end up in Rhett’s arms. Alas, poor Scarlett! Your life inspires more tears than a Shakespearian tragedy.
6. Romeo and Juliet
Speaking of Shakespearian tragedies, we couldn’t complete this countdown with at least one making our list. We are referring to the 1968 classic that won multiple awards the year it was released, including Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. Who can hear the story of these star-crossed lovers without a feeling of profound sadness and many tears? The double funeral at the end finally brings the two feuding families together – too little, too late. Don’t even try to hold back the sniffles.
5. E.T. the Extraterrestrial
Rumor has it even male viewers have to whimper a bit at this movie. Steven Spielberg uses his mastery of the film venue to draw us in to the life of this extraterrestrial and the lonely boy Elliot who he develops a close friendship with. Tears are guaranteed in the scene showing Elliot standing by the motionless body of his companion in the medical facility where the two have been quarantined. And if you make it through E.T.’s near death experience, try sitting through their farewell without the tissues. It can’t happen.
4. It’s a Wonderful Life
Sure, the tears are happy tears at the end, but don’t we all deserve an uplifting ending once in a while? Especially at Christmas. I’ve watched this film every holiday season for the past twenty years, and I still get teary when that darn bell rings on the Christmas tree. Nobody can tug on the heartstrings like Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey and his adorable daughter Zuzu. Not bad for a film that could boast the title of the ultimate sleeper – enjoying unprecendented popularity years after its original release.
3. My Life
In this amazingly touching flick, Bob Jones (played by Michael Keaton) is eagerly anticipating the birth of his first child. When he is told halfway through his wife’s pregnancy that he has cancer and about four months to live, he begins to videotape himself to provide his child with the father he will never know in person. As if this tragic concept is not enough, the process of self exploration that Bob Jones experiences will inspire tears and laughter nearly simultaneously. It’s like an emotional amusement park ride that will keep you wanting more, even after the peaks and dips have left you completely exhausted.
The two main characters of this film, brilliantly played by Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, find friendship transcends the challenges of life even to death. The two women share a long and arduous relationship at times, with many conflicts and much time spent apart. However, when push comes to shove, they are there for each other, which is what true friendship is all about. This movie should be viewed with your best pal, a bottle of wine and plenty of Kleenex to go around.
This breathtakingly beautiful movie explores much more than a love affair that meets an early and tragic end. It explores the historic significance of this event, the devastation of the class system of the times and a society that reveled in sophisticated luxury and leisure. And then there is the gripping relationship between Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet). Who says youth is wasted on the young? These two lovers make every fleeting moment count together. By far, the top movie if you want a good cry with the one you love.
by Wendy Travis