Good Life

Centre Life: In films, what matters most brings a tear to the eye

Centre Daily Times

You’ve got to hand it to the mouse.

Put me in a theater, turn the lights down, start the previews, and if Mickey and company have anything to do with it, I will be sniffling before we even get to the opening credits of the feature presentation. Ninety minutes later, by the time we get to happily ever after, I’ll be wiping my eyes and swallowing hard as my throat does that funny constricting thing that happens whenever I’m trying not to look — and sound — like I’m blubbering over, say, a futuristic, puffy, inflatable, robotic health care provider (of all things).

A recent matinee had me a puddle by the end of “Big Hero 6,” the animated movie featuring that marshmallow of a robot, a 13-year-old genius and a posse of college student nerds, reminiscent of a sweeter, G-rated “Big Bang Theory” gang with super-cool gadgets.

Before the movie even started, a trailer for a summer 2015 release included a mash-up of images from recent Disney movies. A quick clip of Woody, the big hat-big heart cowboy doll from the “Toy Story” trilogy, left me grabbing for the Kleenex.

Just to be clear, I have shed no tears for the “Tangled,” “Frozen” beauties — and the beasts — of Disney’s princess empire. I can let those go.

But the hunchbacked villain, his yellow big-eyed, worker-bee minions and the three orphans of “Despicable Me” touched my heart. And made me cry.

They’re not the only ones. Mater, the goofy tow truck from “Cars,” made me drip like a leaking oil can. The beefy, burly gentle giant who fought to change his fate as a video-game bully in “Wreck-It Ralph”? I blew my nose like I was trying to huff and puff like some other storybook villain. And speaking of fate, don’t even get me started on the relationship between a mother bear and her free-spirited, foolish, very human daughter in “Brave.”

Before you think this is only Disney and Pixar that have this effect on me, know that I heaped pounds of embarrassment upon the head and shoulders of my then-10-year-old nephew when we went to see “The Muppets.”

And I just saw “The Wizard of Oz” for probably the 20th time in my life the other week (albeit this time it was on the big screen for a special one-night-only showing). And when Dorothy says goodbye to the Scarecrow, quicker than you can click your heels and say “There’s no place like home,” my heart was breaking just like that of the Tin Man.

It made me feel better last summer, when NPR ran a segment on its “All Things Considered” program about movies that make men cry. Thousands of male listeners put away their hankies and told the network what flicks clear out the tear ducts. Making the list: “Field of Dreams” (yep, even though I never played catch with my dad, that last scene does me in — and now that I think about it, maybe that’s why); “Marley and Me” (absolutely, the whole “man’s” — and, in my household, “woman’s” — best friend thing brings on the tears); and two war pictures, “Glory,” about a black infantry unit during the Civil War, and “Saving Private Ryan,” showing how a squad of Army Rangers during World War II sacrifices everything to see that one soldier makes it home. (I hate watching war movies but have seen both of these, and I like to think the tears I shed during these were both of sadness and gratitude for the reality behind these “based on a true story” stories).

The NPR list also included some surprises, like the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan match-ups “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” I must be hard-hearted because I’ve seen both probably three or four times and have never shed a tear on either one. Romance? Thanks, but no thanks.

Me, I cry for buddies, for friends, for the unlikeliest of heroes. For loss, for fate, and for overcoming the odds. The fact that it may be a talking car or a toy or something that is neither animal nor human bringing on the tears matters not.

I called my 14-year-old nephew after seeing “Big Hero 6” to give him a review. “It made me cry three times,” I said happily, considering how much I sniffed and dripped during the movie’s final 10 minutes.

“Oh, Aunt Chris,” my nephew said. “You cry over everything.”

No, not everything. Only the things that matter most.