Many movies that inspire tears are marketed towards women – from classics like Steel Magnolias and Love Story to more modern tearjerkers like The Notebook. Women aren’t ashamed to cry and will gladly accept a little tragedy and emotional impact in their favourite films. After all, a reaction like tears means that the film has impacted you in some way – and isn’t that what everyone wants from a great movie?
However, guys are a little bit tougher. The whole macho stereotype means that if a movie elicits a reaction like tears, they’ll probably just avoid it in the future – and, on first viewing, do absolutely everything they can to avoid shedding a single tear. It doesn’t always make sense, but it’s a universal truth that most guys don’t want to cry in front of their partner during an emotional scene in a movie.
There are a few exceptions, though. Most guys will never really feel okay with crying in ‘chick flicks’ like The Notebook, but there are movies centering on sports, male friendships, and father-son relationships that will provoke tears in even the most stoic of men – and they’re sort of free passes. Here are 15 movies that guys are allowed to cry while watching (we promise).
While they’ve had their fair share of films beloved by children, Disney also knows how to make touching movies that adults can enjoy as well. No film proves that better than Up. Up tells the love story of an adorable couple — the character of Carl tugs at the heartstrings as he first misses his deceased wife, and eventually finds some happiness again thanks to a boy scout who helps him on his journey into the sky. While the moment where Carl makes it to Paradise Falls is cute, the real tearjerker moment happens in the flashback montage where the viewer can see Carl’s relationship with Ellie form the moment they met to the moment she passed away.
14 The Pursuit of Happyness
Every guy worries about being able to provide for his family, which is why Will Smith’s portrayal of Chris Gardner is so emotionally impactful for many dudes. Plus, the fact that it’s based on a true story rather than just a fictional screenplay makes it all the more powerful. When Smith’s character is doing absolutely everything to make things normal and happy for his son, even when they’re hiding in the bathroom of a public transit terminal? You’d have to have a heart of stone to not be at least somewhat touched. And when Smith’s character finally lands the job that he’s been working so hard for and cries, hugging his son? Every guy cries with him.
Everyone loves an underdog, and that’s why Rudy has become such an iconic film over the years. In the movie, Danny boy desperately wants to be a member of the Fighting Irish, despite the fact that he doesn’t exactly have a typical football player’s physique. He’s pretty much discouraged throughout the film by everyone from his ex-girlfriend to his family, but he keeps his eyes on the prize and keeps working hard no matter what. The moment when he finally gets his chance to shine on the field? Tears. From everyone.
Lately, Mel Gibson has become more defined by his off-screen antics than his film roles, but back in the day, he was quite the leading man – just look at Braveheart, for example. In the movie, Gibson plays William Wallace, a Scottish knight who goes through romance and epic battlefield scenes before eventually being captured by his enemies and sentenced to death. However, no matter how brutally he gets tortured, Gibson’s character remains proud, never bowing down to the enemy and begging for freedom. As with most guy cry movies, there’s one particularly tear-jerking scene – in Braveheart, it’s the moment right before his public beheading where Wallace sees his dead wife and yells “Freedom!” – going out on his own terms.
11 Remember the Titans
Even though most sports movies have a similar plotline, audiences keep tuning in to film after film because they’re inspirational with just the right amount of drama. However, they can also be pretty big tearjerkers – just look at Remember the Titans. In the film, there are plenty of moments that might make guys tear up a bit, but when Gerry is in the hospital and his teammate tells the nurse that he’s his brother? Every guy tears up there, admit it. I mean, from a divided team to a what is essentially a family? That’ll get you right in the feels.
10 Old Yeller
There’s something about sad things happening to animals in films that brings even the toughest man to tears instantly, and Old Yeller is basically the quintessential sad animal movie. The classic film tells the story of a young boy and his dog, who become quick friends. Yeller helps save his young owner not once, but twice from wild animals, but in doing so, contracts rabies. The young boy, Jim, is forced to put down his beloved pet due to the rabies, and it’s definitely not a modern day scene in a sterile vet’s office – Jim has to shoot his pet in the head with a shotgun. Jim cries the entire time, anyone watching cries the entire time, it’s just a big emotional mess.
9 Dead Poet's Society
There are plenty of inspirational and moving moments in Dead Poets Society revolving around Keating’s speeches and lectures, but at the end of the day, the storyline that makes everyone the saddest is Neil’s. Neil Perry, played by Robert Sean Leonard, has his ups and downs throughout the movie, but above all, his character is defined by his need to get his father’s approval. When it seems like that isn’t ever going to be the case, Perry takes matters into his own hands and commits suicide. That wordless scene is guaranteed to affect the most cold hearted of men, even if none of the speeches throughout the movie have.
8 Field of Dreams
Sure, baseball might be the great American pastime, but that’s not the reason that Field of Dreams remains so popular year after year – it’s all about the father/son relationship. Sure, it has the typical uplifting sports movie plot twists, and the film has ups and downs. Ultimately, though, it’s all about the climax at the film’s finale when Kevin Costner’s character plays a game of catch with his father’s ghost. There’s never a dry eye in the house after that scene. It’s touching, it’s a great way to wrap up the story, and it’s very well done.
7 The Green Mile
Stephen King’s novels that make it to big screen adaptations tend to fall in the horror genre, but The Green Mile proves that he’s just as skilled with complex dramas. The film centers on a wrongly convicted inmate, played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan, who is a bit of a gentle giant, and his relationship with Tom Hanks’ character, Paul Edgecomb, a corrections officer at the prison. Duncan’s character has telekinetic powers, and in the film’s finale, he clears himself in Edgecomb’s eyes through psychic transference, and decides to die. However, the moment where you’ll find yourself reaching for the tissues is Duncan’s characters’ death scene – in the electric chair, he asks Edgecomb to keep the hood off, as he’s afraid of the dark. It’s a powerful scene that’s guaranteed to provoke some kind of emotion.
6 Toy Story 3
The Toy Story franchise is arguably one of the most successful one that Pixar has ever produced, and it’s easy to see why – everyone kind of wishes that they could be a kid again and pretend that their toys got up to things when they weren’t looking. However, most kids reach a point where they realize their silly dreaming isn’t really cool anymore – and that’s exactly what happens in Toy Story 3, as Andy goes off to college and leaves everyone but Woody behind. The sadness from characters like Buzz Lightyear that you likely remember way back from your childhood will definitely hit you in the feels.
5 Good Will Hunting
It can be tough to believe that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were responsible for a film like Good Will Hunting so early in their careers, but the two skilled A-Listers both wrote and starred in the classic flick. While there are many scenes centering on Will Hunting’s friendship and romances, the most powerful relationship is with his psychiatrist, Dr. Sean Maguire, played by the late Robin Williams. Their relationship slowly develops throughout the film as Hunting becomes more willing to open up, and it all culminates in a scene where Hunting finally confesses his childhood abuse to Dr. Maguire, who repeats “it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault.” Damon cries, Maguire gets teary, every audience member gets teary… it’s an extremely well-written and well-acted scene.
When you think of Gladiator, chances are you think of the crazy fight scenes that Russell Crowe’s character Maximus participates in. And yes, watching the film will definitely make you want to head to the gym to crush some reps after seeing Maximus’ crazy performances in the arena. However, amongst all the fight scenes guaranteed to get your pulse racing, there are a few tearjerker moments – none moreso than the final scene. The movie climaxes with a dying Maximus who is able to finally reunite with his beloved wife and son in the afterlife.
3 Saving Private Ryan
One of the reasons that war movies are often so popular in Hollywood is because they’re a combination of action-packed battle scenes and more intense dramatic moments. Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan is no different. The main storyline may cause you to tear up a bit – Matt Damon plays a missing soldier with three brothers killed in action, and Hanks’ character, Captain Miller, is determined to find the last brother, no matter what the cost. However, the final moment will get tears from anyone watching – Damon’s character makes it out alive, and a scene flashes to him as an elderly man bringing his own family to Miller’s grave. Spielberg ups the ante by adding an American flag visual to the powerful scene, as well as a moving score. No one can make it through that scene without shedding at least one tear.
Keanu Reeves might not be the actor with the most emotional depth, but he had a few shining moments in the often forgotten film Hardball. In the film, Reeves’ character is forced to coach a boys’ baseball team in order to repay some gambling debts. In the end, he connects with the children and does everything from taking them to a real pro baseball game to buying them new jerseys. However, just when things are looking triumphant, one of the team’s players – the adorable young G Baby – is hit by a stray bullet while hanging out in the projects where he lives. Everyone cries when G Baby dies. Everyone.
This one is a bit unconventional, and the infamous scene has been parodied endlessly, but hear us out. Stanley Kubrick’s classic film Spartacus has a lot of cheesy scenes, but there’s one in particular that’s so well written it’s guaranteed to get an emotional reaction from even the most stoic of men. When the slave rebellion that Spartacus helped lead is defeated, all the prisoners who fought alongside him find out that their lives will be spared if they out their leader – Spartacus. However, the loyal, brave men don’t out him – instead, they all stand up, in turn, and declare themselves to be Spartacus. It’s heroic, it’s touching, and it’s a guaranteed guy cry moment.