Friday 23 March 2018

Real men do cry: top tear-jerkers for guys

As dads and boyfriends blub their way through Toy Story 3, Joe O'Shea looks at the top tear-jerkers for guys

Woody and Buzz
Woody and Buzz

Joe O'Shea

The deeply emotional response to Toy Story 3, which had dads and boyfriends blubbing uncontrollably at the climactic scene, has surprised many.

Tom Hanks, the voice of Woody the cowboy, was moved to issue a reassuring; "It's ok, guys, I cried too!" after reports of grown men sobbing their way through the last half hour.

But the truth is that it doesn't take much to make men cry at the movies, film-makers just need to know how to push the right buttons.

Most men can remain stony-faced through the most heart-tugging moments of the average rom com, stoically slurping their cola as serial-dumpee Jennifer Aniston stands forlorn once again in the rain.

Even the really hard-core stuff, such as Debra Winger's demise in ultimate tear-jerker Terms of Endearment has most guys idly wondering where Jack Nicholson has got to.

You had me at hello? Please. You lost me when that American football guy stopped shouting "Show me the money!"

Men react in a certain way to emotional movies because they are conforming to expectations about their behaviour, according to Prof Mary Beth Oliver of Penn State University, co-author of the academic paper An Examination of Factors Related to Sex Differences In Enjoyment of Sad Films.

"For many men, there is a great deal of pressure to avoid expression of 'female' emotions like sadness and fear," says Professor Oliver.

"From a very young age, males are taught that it is inappropriate to cry, and these lessons are often accompanied by a great deal of ridicule when the lessons aren't followed."

Of course, whatever society expects, there are ways to get to us.

And they usually involve animals, father-son relationships, sports or robots with a heart.

It is about moments where innocence is lost, where childhood ends, loyalties are betrayed and friends are forced apart.

And the greatest male "I'm Not Crying -- I've Got Something In My Eye" movie moments include:

Shane (1953)

No man alive can watch the final scene of this classic, violent fable of the Old West without crying like a little girl.

Strong, silent type Alan Ladd is Shane, the mysterious stranger who drifts into town and befriends the young son of simple sodbusters who are being terrorised by an evil cattle baron.

Little Joey can't understand why his dad won't stand up to gunslinger Jack Palance and when Shane is revealed as a fearless gunman and saviour of the homesteaders, he has finally found his hero.

However, Shane must be moving along, and in the final scene, as he disappears into the monumental wilderness, Joey plaintively shouts after him "Shane! Shane! Come Back!" Heroism, fathers and sons, loss of innocence, Shane has it all.

Platoon (1986)

Charlie Sheen is the young recruit fighting in Vietnam as Sgt Elias and Sgt Barnes (Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger) fight for his soul.

After a bloody battle in the jungle, dark-hearted Sgt Barnes betrays noble Sgt Elias and leaves him for dead as the last chopper takes off.

But wait! Who is that staggering out of the jungle to the strains of Adagio For Strings? It's Sgt Elias! And he's going to make it! Oh no, he's not.

That iconic moment when Sgt Elias falls to his knees and throws his hands into the air, reaching for salvation even as the bullets rip into him, it's a classic tear-jerker.

Blade runner (1982)

Most women just don't get this, but the scene on the roof in the rain, where "replicant" Roy Batty (a very blonde Rutger Hauer) reveals the awakening soul inside the cyborg, gets men every time.

As he spares the life of Harrison Ford, the dying Hauer smiles wistfully, delivering the classic soliloquy; "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

It may sound like nonsense, but it gets you, right in the gut.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? (1967)

Hollywood father-figure Spencer Tracy was already seriously ill when he made this classic movie about race and prejudice, starring alongside the love of his life, Katharine Hepburn.

Tracy's closing "Remember to love your woman" monologue is one of the best bits of screenwriting in movie history.

Even Katharine Hepburn couldn't keep it together.

Rain Man (1988)

The complicated relationship between brothers has rarely been portrayed with such depth and quirky affection as in this Oscar-winning '80s classic.

The stand-out scene features an emotional farewell between autistic Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) and his slick, car-dealing brother Charlie (Tom Cruise).

After a memorable cross-country road trip together, they touch heads and Charlie says: "I like having you for my brother". Raymond replies: "I'm an excellent driver".

Rocky (1976)

Who can resist the climactic ending when boxer Rocky Balboa, after "going the distance" with Apollo Creed, ignores the cameras crowding him in the ring and calls out for his girl?

"Adrian! ADRIAAAN!" And when he finally reaches her, they embrace to the sound of Bill Conti's triumphant score.

It may be as manipulative as hell but you can't help yourself.

The Champ (1979)

Jon Voight and the impossibly cute child star Ricky Schroder starred in the remake of the Wallace Beery/Jackie Cooper original about a down-on-his-luck ex-boxer taking one more shot at the big time for his little boy.

In the last fight scene, boxer Billy Flynn lies dying in the ring as his little boy TJ shakes him and cries; "Champ, wake up, Champ! Hey, don't sleep now. We got to go home. Got to go home, Champ! Mister, help me. Wake him up! Wake him!"

This movie traumatised a generation of young boys.

Irish Independent

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