vulture asks

Vulture Asks: What Movie Makes You Cry Like a Baby?

Anyone who has seen the critically acclaimed, Sundance breakout Fruitvale Station — which opened in New York, L.A., and the Bay Area last Friday and expands wider in select cities this Friday — can attest to the movie’s  devastating ending. We won’t give up details about the actual plot, but expect the closing credits to be soundtracked by the blubbering of crying adults. It got us thinking about the movies that did the same to us — that left us trembling wrecks. Read our writers’ picks and then tell us your own sob stories in the comments below. (Also, Spoiler Alert, as most people cry about the ending of movies.)

Beasts of the Southern Wild
I do cry in movies — I think the last one that really brought the tears was the galvanizing documentary How to Survive a Plague — but oddly enough, I cry way, way more the second time I see a movie that has moved me, just because the certainty of the emotional experience to come is so overpowering. Take Beasts of the Southern Wild, which I discovered at its Sundance premiere and loved to death … and yes, I teared up at the end. But that was nothing compared to what was to come! When the freakin’ Beasts of the Southern Wild trailer debuted online a few months later and I heard THAT SCORE again … instant tears. For a trailer! And then, not long after that, I caught my second viewing of Beasts at the L.A. Film Festival and this time, I was wrecked from minute one. Every father-daughter interaction was that much more meaningful and tear-jerking because it was now informed by their eventual last scene together, which I was anticipating throughout. Thanks God that movie theater was dark, because I was making James Van Der Beek ugly-cry faces the whole time. —Kyle Buchanan

Les Misérables
So I hated the Les Miz movie, and it made me furious and annoyed. And yet when Jean Valjean sat in that church dying, I basically could not stop crying. “Yes, Cosette / Forbid me now to die?” Oh God, I was a wreck. Like I said, though, that movie is horrendous; I think it was residual love for the show that was bubbling up inside me and my tear ducts.” —Margaret Lyons

The Natural
As Tom Hanks memorably said in A League of Their Own, there’s no crying in baseball. But for that subset of moviegoers identifying as both baseball fanatics and old softies, tears are inevitable where baseball films are concerned. Whether it’s Eight Men Out, A Field of Dreams or even … cough, cough … Major League (damn you, Tom Berenger, struggling to beat out a bunt!), it’s not a question of if I will cry, but when, and how hard. The moment that gets me every time: When hobbled Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) cranks that mammoth two-strike, two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth, pennant-winning homer and shatters the ballpark lights in Barry Levinson’s 1984 movie. —John Sellers 

Pathetically, I didn’t even see Armageddon in theaters — I watched it at home, alone, in the middle of the afternoon, and still was completely undone. I guess I was about 14; it was one of those summers when I still couldn’t drive and spent most of my time moping around the house waiting for the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” to play on the Box, again. I must’ve switched to Armageddon at some point, because I have vivid memories of sitting in my mother’s living room watching Ben Affleck sing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” to Liv Tyler and being sure that no love could ever be so real or so tragic. (Like I said, I was 14.) Honestly, I have no memory what happened in the first 60 to 90 minutes of that movie, but I will never forget Affleck singing, or the sobs that wracked my body when Bruce Willis leaned over to hit the button to explode himself on the asteroid so that his daughter could have love. I wept for a solid hour, no joke. Over a Michael Bay movie. Do I win for Most Embarrassing story?” –Amanda Dobbins

Dead Man Walking
I was 13 when I saw Dead Man Walking by myself in the theater. Not sure how I got away with that, as it’s R-rated and about a rapist/killer on death row. But I did! I just walked to the local theater one night after homework, sat myself down — and got lied to and gutted by Sean Penn. Not sure why (maybe because I was A CHILD), but I believed him when he told Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) that he was innocent. When it turned out he wasn’t, when he started crying and asking for forgiveness, I lost it. I was so hysterical by the end credits that two kind women actually stopped to comfort me. My response was the sob equivalent of Why, God?  —Patti Greco

You Can Count on Me
It always stops me in my tracks when a movie uses its title as an actual line of dialogue. So when I first saw this Mark Ruffalo–Laura Linney drama about a woman and her fuck-up of a brother who reunite after time apart, I was convinced that either (or both) would break out the title phrase at some point. So I’m watching it, I’m watching it, and the end draws near, and the two of them are sitting on a bench, waiting for a bus to come take the brother away again. He says to her (I believe it’s him to her, not vice versa), “Remember when we were kids, what we used to say to each other?” I braced for impact. But Laura Linney doesn’t say it. And neither does Mark Ruffalo. Because of course she remembers, because no matter how much water has passed under the bridge and how many fights they’ve had, they love each other to death and neither of them have to say “you can count on me.” And that’s when I started crying. Just hot tears streaming down my cheeks. I’m sure it had more to do with my own brother issues than with the movie itself, but that’s why each movie affects each person in different ways. I could not will those tears to stop pouring forth, as much as I tried.Gilbert Cruz

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
Even hearing the name “Zachary” said out loud triggers a pang of hurt. I originally saw the documentary “blind,” meaning that I hadn’t read anything previously on the real-life case, which only added to the small lake of tears I cried after experiencing the shock and sadness of the film’s double twist ending. Now, whenever I need some life perspective (or just to clear up my sinuses), I put on Dear Zachary and grab a box of tissues. Or just a spare rag. Who are we kidding here? —Lindsey Weber  

I Love You, Man
I cry at most movies. Happy movies: cry. Sad movies: cry. I teared up at a screening of Grown Ups 2 last week. Fruitvale Station was the first film I cried at hours after the movie was over. But that was a lot of thinking about the state of the world, yada yada yada. The most I ever cried at a movie was in a Manhattan theater watching the bromance comedy I Love You, Man. Seriously. The short of it is 30 minutes beforehand I got a call from my boss at the talent agency at which I was working basically demanding that I move to Los Angeles, a place I never wanted to go as a person born and raised in New York. I watched the very L.A. I Love You, Man weeping, trying to find a sign that it was a place I could live. I thought, just like Paul Rudd, I’d never be able to make friends there. But he does make a friend. I cried all the water, imagining broing down with my L.A. bros Jason Segel and Paul Rudd. Slappa da bass, mon. Slappa da bass. —Jesse David Fox

What Movie Has Made You Cry Like a Baby?