You just don’t get a meal more manlier than a rare steak. But just like how when you poke steak hard enough in just the right places, juices start to flow, so too there are certain movie triggers that will get most men bawling like newborn babies. Hell, even the muscular tear ducts of a man’s man like myself has occasionally met their match in a movie whose sole intention is clearly just to remind us that even though you chop wood like a pro and sport a beard like a homeless viking, you still have those pesky feelings hidden deep down under all those layers of engine grease and boerewors.
Here are 10 such movies that almost always leave men with leaky faces.[WARNING: SOME SPOILERS TO FOLLOW}
- 10. The Notebook
Yes, I know, I know. A real manly man would never even watch this Nicholas Sparks drivel to begin with, right? However I can almost guarantee that if you’re in a relationship with a lady for any extended period of time, she’s going to want to watch this with you. And chances are, you will cry. There’s just too much emotional blackmail of the sickly sweet tragedy variety inflicted on Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams and their older counterparts James Garner and Gena Rowlands for you to not eventually succumb to the onslaught. And even if you do somehow manage to keep your eyeballs dry through sheer will alone, chances are that you probably want to cry because you know it will score you serious brownie points with your lady.
- 9. The Iron Giant
“Superman”. Just that one word, uttered by Vin Diesel’s titular Iron Giant (a reference to the comics that his new friend Hogarth loves to read) as he willing sacrificed himself to save young Hogarth and his town, was enough to set cinemas awash in salty man tears when Brad Bird’s classic animated movie was first released. Having rewatched the movie recently, I can personally attest to it’s insta-bawl power not having diminished one bit since then.
- 8. Guardians of the Galaxy
And Vin Diesel – the very definition of a manly man (just look at his name!) – strikes again! And this time he does it with a tree. A TREE! Guardians of the Galaxy may have been a sing-along, laugh-riot for most of its running time, but when Diesel’s Groot, arguably the best character in the entire movie, decides to sacrifice himself to save the people he has come to regard as his friends, it’s utterly heartbreaking. It starts with the look of pure sorrow on Rocket’s face as he realizes what his companion is about to do, and then Groot utters those immortal words and there isn’t a wooden heart in sight.
“We are Groot,” indeed.
- 7. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Fact: If you don’t get all choked up when Arnie’s Terminator, the only real “father” that the young John Connor has ever really known, literally goes down in flames as he lowers himself into a vat of molten steel, then you’re actually more of a robot than the Terminator itself.
- 6. This Is My Father
Chances are you’ve probably never seen This Is My Father, a 1998 direct-to-TV drama starring Aidan Quinn and James Caan, about a man (Caan) trying to rediscover his Irish roots as he hears the tragic tales of why his pregnant mother left his young father (Quinn) behind in Ireland 60 years earlier. Chances are you probably also don’t want to see This Is My Father if you have any hopes of keeping all of your tears inside your body (I only saw it because I was channel hopping one night years ago, and accidentally found it on one of these MNet Movies channels when I was hoping to watch a totally different movie).
Director Paul Quinn turns the entire story into one massive bout of bittersweet melancholy but it’s honestly not the best thing you’ll ever see. But then the movie’s final, twisting moments hit and it just turns it into the celluloid equivalent of chopping onions. Since this is a far less-known movie, the only spoiler I’ll give away is that you’re going to need lots of tissues.
- 5. Up
Despite its overall brilliance, you can probably ignore most of Disney/Pixar’s 2009 animated movie for the purpose of this article. No, all we need here are the film’s opening 4 minutes, which is in my opinion the best love-story that Disney has ever produced. There’s more emotional character work done in those opening scenes than most movies do over their entire running time, and it’s heartbreaking!
- 4. The Pursuit of Happiness
Who would ever have said that the goofy Fresh Prince would one day not only become a serious actor, but turn into a human tear-duct remote control with his performance in The Pursuit of Happiness. There are two moments in this tragic drama that turn on the waterworks without fail: When Smith’s Chris Gardner, after having lost nearly everything in his life including his home, is forced to spend the night with his son in a subway bathroom. Chris has to trick his son into thinking it’s a game, to keep him from realizing the tragic truth, and boy does it get emotional!
And then there’s the film’s final scene where after overcoming a year of unending personal misery, Chris finally gets hired for work again, and Smith puts on one of the best emotional cry faces you’ve ever seen. And by best, I actually mean worst, because you will be tjanking as well.
- 3. Old Yeller
When Travis is forced to shoot his…… When Travis has to shoot….. See the dog got rabies from defending his family from a wolf, and Travis has to….. Damn it, I can’t even type out the words. *Sniff*
- 2. Braveheart
It’s no secret around these parts that Braveheart is one of my favourite movies ever. I even used the theme song instead of the wedding march at my wedding! And as those lilting bag pipe notes hit the church, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house then. Just like there wasn’t during one of the film’s final scenes as Mel Gibson’s William Wallace, refusing to give up his beliefs in exchange for mercy is tortured to death (including having his intestines pulled out! Yes, that’s what’s happening off-screen!) in front of a crowd of onlookers including his closest friends. There are many tragic scenes in the movie (Wallace’s parents’ funeral, the death of his love, etc), but it’s his iconic final shout of “Freeeeeeedooooooom!”, as James Horner’s orchestral score soars at just the right time, that is just gut wrenching. At last count, I’ve seen this film more than 30 times (seriously), and this scene still never fails to hit me right in the feels.
- 1. The Crying Game
One hour, 12 minutes and 37 seconds into The Crying Game… Instant tragedy.
Last Updated: March 26, 2015