When you hear the term “tearjerker,” chances are most people will think of movies aimed at women, such as Beaches or Terms of Endearment. The association between women and crying at the movies has a long history. But what about men?
Men typically do not admit that they cry when watching movies, and in most cases guys will not cry watching the same movies as women. For men, movies have to reach them on a personal level and be relatable in some way. When that happens, manly tears will flow.
With Father’s Day on the horizon, the following five movies can be watched by guys, and they can shed tears without worrying their wife, kids or friends will make fun of them. The list, in no particular order:
Shawshank Redemption – It may be seen by some as an odd choice, particularly since it is difficult for many men to relate to being in prison for twenty years, even if innocent. That said, it’s not the prison experience so much as it is the bond between two friends that sets the tone. The railroaded Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Red Redding (Morgan Freeman) become close friends during their time in prison. When Andy makes his daring escape, Red believes he’ll never see his friend again since he’s been denied parole each time he’s up. But Redding is released and decides to make his way to Mexico where Andy claims he’d go. As Red is riding the bus to the Mexican border, he thinks, “I hope to see my friend and shake his hand.” As the movie closes, we see Red walking along a beach and spots Andy restoring an old boat. From an elevated view, we see the two friends reunited, and it’s impossible not to shed a tear when it happens.
Rudy – Everybody loves an underdog, and many guys have been in situations similar to that of Rudy Ruettiger. Told he wasn’t fast enough or strong enough, and that he lacked the natural talent to play college football, particularly at a place like Notre Dame, Ruettiger set out to prove people wrong. First, he had to get into Notre Dame, and he was not getting in on a scholarship. Rudy worked hard—harder than some scholarship players and, as a result, made the practice team. Rudy never expected to play, but he did ask the coach if he could dress with the team for one game. After initially being told no, coach Parseghian relented. When Dan Devine took over as the coach, it’s clear he’s not going to make good on the promise until the top players threaten not to dress for the final game. Devine relents and with less than a minute to play in the game, allows Ruettiger to go into the game. As Rudy runs out onto the field, we get to share in the delight his family and friends experience from the stands and can’t help but cry watching somebody realize a dream come true.
Marley and Me – Old Yeller set the standard for movies about dogs, and there’s a reason dogs are called man’s best friend. Marley and Me takes a different route than most pet movies. The film revolves around Marley from the time he’s a puppy until the time he’s ill and must be euthanized. His owner John (Owen Wilson) is at his side when Marley has to be put down, and in this film, guys don’t just get choked up or shed a tear. This movie induces all out crying so often I don’t know a man who’s ever seen the movie more than once.
Saving Private Ryan – While this film obviously hits much closer to home for those who’ve served in the armed forces, it still packs a punch for civilians as well. As viewers, we follow a group of men who land on Omaha Beach on D-Day and then fight their way across France to find Private James Ryan and get him home after the military brass learn that his three brothers all perished in other battles. The film contains some of the most realistic battle scenes captured on film, but it’s the personal stories that connect us to the characters, notably Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks). Miller is revered by his men, but he tells them he’s just a schoolteacher from Pennsylvania. Several of the characters perish during the movie, but it’s Miller’s death as he bravely protects a bridge from the Germans that hits men on an emotional level. We all wanted him to get back home, but he pays the ultimate price and we cannot help but cry as he passes away.
Field of Dreams – For many men who love baseball, they have memories of the time their fathers played catch with them after work or on the weekends. Young baseball fans looked up to hometown favorites, but in the end, it was always Dad who was the hero. He taught us to throw, how to catch, how to hit. He taught us about oiling up our mitt and the importance of always keeping our eye on the ball. We cherished those memories. For Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), the memories are painful because he walked out of his house at a young age and never spoke to his father, John (Dwier Brown) again. Through the magic of a cornfield, Ray gets the chance to meet his father again. At first, Ray doesn’t let on that he knows John is his father. As John begins to walk away to the cornfields with the rest of the players, Ray says, “Hey….Dad? You wanna have a catch?” John smiles and replies, “I’d like that.” There isn’t a man alive who enjoyed playing catch with his father who doesn’t break down during that scene.
Men crying while watching movies is a rarity but watch them as they watch these films and you’ll be sure to catch them reaching for some Kleenex.