Thursday, October 22, 2009

Weekly Top Tens: Kids Movies That Make Me Cry

I never used to cry at the movies – except for kids movies. I guess I have become more emotionally unstable, and thus, I cry more at the movies now than I did before. There is something about the innocence of kids movies that sometimes gets me to break down at will. The most recent example is Where the Wild Things Are, but I found when I made up this list, there was a hell of a lot of titles I could choose from. So, despite the fact that it embarrasses the hell out of me, here are the kids movies that make me cry.

10. The Fox and the Hound (Ted Berman & Richard Rich, 1981)
This is one that I think dates to the fact that I saw it as a child, and have never been able to get to the end of this Disney classic and not cry. How can you not when you see the story of two innocent boyhood friends torn asunder simply because one is a fox and the other a hound? When poor Cooper, the hound, looks like he might be dead after that bear attack, and his friend Tod, the fox, goes over to him, I start whimpering. When the hunter raises his gun to kill Tod, and Cooper valiantly stands up and puts himself between the hunter and his friend, I lose it. A tale of innocence lost, and friendship that prevails despite the odds, The Fox and the Hound is one of my favorite Disney movies.

9. Babe (Chris Noonan, 1995)
I think the sequel, Babe: Pig in the City, is actually a much better film – darker and more complex than the original – but it is this film that gets to me. A pig is brought to a farm where he sees sheepdogs working, and decides that he too wants to be one. He is good at his job, especially when he follows Maa (the matriarch of the sheeps) advice and asks the sheep politely to move. There are three moments in the film that get to me. The first is when Maa is killed in the wolf attack. The second is after Babe runs away because he finds out that humans eat pigs, but the farmer (James Cromwell) finds him, and sings and dances to regain his trust. And finally, although it has become a punchline now more than anything else, when Cromwell looks at Babe after the sheepdog trials and says “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do”. I defy you to watch the whole movie and get to that part and not break down. If you don’t, then you don’t have a heart.

8. Dumbo (Ben Sharpsteen, 1941)
Out of the Disney films of the 1940s, it is Bambi that people normally mention when talking about crying, but for me, it’s always been Dumbo that gets to me. After all, Bambi’s mother is shot offscreen, but Dumbo’s mother taken away from him in full view, and put in the “naughty elephant cage” for all to see. The moment that really gets to me is when Dumbo goes to visit his mother, and she hugs him with her trunk THROUGH THE BARS of her cage. Damn it, just thinking about that moment gets to me.

7. Watership Down (Martin Rosen, 1978)
Is Watership Down a kids movie? I know it’s an animated movie with rabbits, so I guess so, but sweet Jesus, this is one depressing movie! A group of rabbits flee their warren, because of a vision one of them has, but soon the only female rabbit is attacked and killed by a hawk. They move forward, seemingly find another suitable warren, only to discover that is run by a farmer who kills some rabbits for food. They move on again, find a paradise, but is soon infiltrated by a nearby warren, a totalitarian state that wants them to join, and when they refuse, prepare to do battle, causing an all out bloody war. What moment of Watership Down makes me cry? The better question, is what moment doesn’t!

6. The Lion King (Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff, 1994)
When the movie came out I was 13, so I was far too “cool” to watch a Dinsey animated film. When I finally caught up with it, nearly a decade later, I understood what all the fuss was about. The Lion King is probably the best Disney animated film after their resurrection in the late 1980s, and is surely the most emotionally draining. Who doesn’t cry during the moment when Mufasa is dangling over the cliff and reaches out for help from his brother Scar, only to be flung into a stampede of wildebeasts, who trample him to death. Out of all the Disney characters deaths – and there are a shocking number of these over the years – this is the one that leaves me in tears.

5. Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)
Out of all the films I have ever seen, Where the Wild Things Are is the best at examining the inner life of a child in turmoil, feeling guilt over his parents divorce, and confusion of his feelings of abandonment. The opening scenes, set in the real world, make you feel sorry for Max, the main character, and also reflect an childhood innocence most films don’t get right. When he enters his fantasy land, things are at first great, and then slowly start to get worse. If you don’t tear up a little when Max finally says goodbye to the Wild Things – and they all howl at the moon, then perhaps the emotional reunion with his mother will do the trick. If neither of these things do, that I can’t help you.

4. Up (Pete Docter, 2009)
If you can get through the first 20 minutes of Up and not cry, then you are stronger man than I am. The montage of Carl and his wife’s lives together – their meet cute beginning, their wedding, the miscarriage, the constant thwarting of their dreams, and her eventually death leaving Carl all alone, had be balling like a little girl. Then, at the end of the movie, when he goes through the photo album, and finally admits that there is a connection with the little boy who comes along on his journey, I started all over again. Damn you Pixar!

3. The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999)
Best known for his work with Pixar, Brad Bird’s first theatrical movie was this classically animated tale set during the cold war, where a young boy befriends a robot from outer space. The two become inseparable, which is good for the little boy, who has no father in his life, and no real friends. However, a government agent becomes suspicious, and tries to get evidence of the outer space robot, and when he does, he sends the army in after him. The entire last act of the movie had me in tears. First, when the giant thinks the boy is dead, and goes on his rampage. Then, when the boy wakes up and stops him, only to realize that the cowardly agent has sent a nuclear missle to destroy the giant, even though it will destroy the entire town, and the giant says goodbye and flies off to sacrifice himself. The ending shot cheered me up a bit, so at least I was crying tears of happiness and not sadness at the end, but everything until then gets to me.

2. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
Okay, so if you don’t mist up a little during E.T. that I truly think that you are missing something essential that every human being should have. A movie about the pains of divorce, and its effects on children, becomes a story of true friendship and innocence lost, and found again. I cannot help but smile to think of little Drew Barrymore screaming when she first sees E.T., but it’s the finale, when Elliot thinks that E.T. is dead that gets me crying every time – even though I know that he’ll pull through. By the time he tells Elliot that “I’ll be right here”, I’ve been crying so much that I cannot possibly stop.

1. Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
It is hard for me not to start crying just thinking about Wall-E, as there is so much beauty in this film. From it’s opening, wordless scene where lonely Wall-E goes about his day and dreams of having company, to his discovery of Eve, and their blossoming “romance”, the movie has me from the beginning. When they do their “dance” number outside the spaceship, it is one of the most beautiful moments I have ever seen in the film. What really gets to me though is the finale, where Wall-E has sacrificed himself for humanity, and Eve brings him home and puts in a new motherboard, and Wall-E seems not to remember her. She tries to hold his hand, and he goes to pull away, and then, his hand closes around hers. Utterly beautiful. And it brings me to tears every damn time.

No comments:

Post a Comment