Saturday, January 02, 2010


336th post


Movie: Beauty and the Beast
Tearjerker: The Beast's death, transformation and revival.

With the Beast on the verge of death after being stabbed, Belle confesses her love for him just as the enchanted rose sheds its last petal. What happens next brings the audience from tears of sadness to tears of triumphant joy. A beautiful way to cap off a beautiful movie.

Movie: The Tigger Movie
Tearjerker: "T-T-F-E--Ta-Ta For-Ever!"

I saw this movie when I was 11 and this scene shook me up pretty badly. I grew up on Winnie the Pooh videocassettes; I knew who Tigger was--the fun one, the silly, the one surest to make you laugh, always calling out his signature line "T-T-F-N, Ta-Ta For Now!". Then they gave him his own movie, messed around with his character, and finally had him so upset with his friends that with the above dramatic and emotional declaration, he slammed the door and ran off into a blizzard. Cue shocked blubbering.

Movie: Dumbo
Tearjerker: "Baby Mine". Just... "Baby Mine".

This may be the one saddest song in the entire Disney repertoire, and it just gets worse with age. After going berserk protecting her son from bullies, Mrs. Jumbo gets locked up in Circus Jail (I guess she was fortunate not to go the way of Mary). To cheer Dumbo up, Timothy takes him to visit her. This is what ensues.

Small wonder they hurried to follow it up with "Pink Elephants on Parade".

Movie: The Fox and the Hound
Tearjerker: The whole movie, but mostly the ending.

For overall depression, there's probably no Disney film that can touch TFatF. Tod the fox and Copper the hound dog, childhood friends, grow to be bitter natural adversaries. At the climax of the movie, Tod saves Copper and his hunter owner from a giant black bear; Copper reciprocates by protecting him from the hunter. Smiles all around, right? Wrong. The film ends with each going their separate ways, knowing they can never truly coexist, as their childhood declaration of eternal friendship plays out across the aether. Happy endings, my foot.

Movie: Tarzan
Tearjerker: The death of Kala's baby.

Aw, isn't that cute, the widdle baby gorilla is chasing a butterf--JEBUS KRYSE IT'S A LEOPARD!! Oh yeah, and top it all off we hear the baby's cries from offscreen as it is no doubt disemboweled and devoured while the Phil Collins lyrics gently push us over the edge.

Movie: Mickey's Christmas Carol
Tearjerker: Tiny Tim's burial.

Aah, Mickey Mouse. The very symbol of happiness and good cheer, his smiling face ubiquitous across the world. The ultimate optimist. In the role of Bob Cratchit.
As an adult you can see this coming, but imagine being a child seeing Mickey standing at his own son's grave and shedding a single tear while laying Tiny Tim's crutch atop it... Cue waterworks. It comes out of left field and you're not even sure that it will be reversed.
For added woobieness, the above video is dedicated to the late Wayne Allwine, who began his career as Mickey's voice in this film.

Movie: Alice in Wonderland
Tearjerker: "Very Good Advice"

Speaking of coming out of left field, how about this cheerful tune? In a bizarre scene in an already bizarre movie, Alice, lost and alone, begins... singing. Yeah. It's such a sad song she begins crying partway through, as do the Wonderland denizens listening to it, who... melt away as the tears run down their faces.

Movie: Pinocchio
Tearjerker: Pinocchio's death and revival.

From sobbing at "My boy... my brave boy..." to sobbing at "You are a real boy!". Mood whiplash ahoy--and pass the tissues.

Movie: Finding Nemo
Tearjerker: "I don't want to forget!"

Earlier in the movie, a potentially sorrowful scene is subverted when the jellyfish-stung Dory bounces back and starts playing hide-and-seek. This, however, is the true low point. Marlin, thinking the son he's traveled hundreds of leagues to find is dead, begins swimming away. Dory begs him to stay with her.
"No one's ever stuck with me for so long before. And if you leave... if you leave... I just, I remember things better with you. I do, look. P. Sherman, forty-two... forty-two... I remember it, I do. It's there, I know it is, because when I look at you, I can feel it. And-and I look at you, and I... and I'm home. Please... I don't want that to go away. I don't want to forget!"
"I'm sorry, Dory. But I... do."
It's the way her voice cracks with desperation that gets me the most.

Movie: The Lion King
Tearjerker: Mufasa's death.

Here we're entering the big leagues. Mufasa, the loving father figure voiced by James Earl freaking Jones, is pushed off a cliff by his evil brother and under the hooves of a stampeding wildebeest herd, and only by a quick cut at the last second do we avoid actually seeing a Disney character die on-screen. Then his son finds the body... (You know, I'm not sure if the fact that it's completely unmarked actually makes this scene worse than if it were otherwise. In any case, major. Tear. Jerker.)

Movie: Old Yeller
Tearjerker: *BANG*

Introductions to the basic unfairness of life don't get much more graphic than this. After 70+ minutes of adventure, Old Yeller, the can-do dog hero, contracts rabies from a wolf that, had he not fought it, would have killed his owner Travis and his family. Knowing that he cannot be cured and that he now poses a danger to them, Travis is forced to shoot his beloved pet. I don't like dogs, and even I find this scene heartbreaking.

Movie: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Tearjerker: The whole. Freaking. Ending.

After surviving a harrowing trek across the Sierras, Shadow, Chance and Sassy have nearly reached their owners' home when Shadow falls into a pit, badly hurting his leg, unable to climb out.
That's not the tearjerker.
At least not for me. That's the very next scene, when the pets return to their owners. I get teary-eyed when Chance and Sassy reunite with Jamie and Hope, but when Peter gives up on Shadow right before he limps into view...
Here, just watch it.

Oh G-d, oh G-d, I'm crying just while typing this.

Movie: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Tearjerker: Snow White's funeral wake.

This was it. This was the film that had box office cash registers ringing day and night and little kids wetting seats by the theaterful. It was revolutionary. It had color. It had music. It had everything.
It had this.

Snow White's wake is one of the biggest sob-inducing scenes in cinematic history. If crusty old Grumpy tearing up doesn't get you, then the simple, child-like Dopey sobbing uncontrollably into Doc's shoulder will.

Movie: Up
Tearjerker: The entire opening montage.

Ever since I was old enough to know better, the closest I have ever come to crying in public was in a theater watching the first ten minutes of Up. There is a good reason for this. You can watch the video and see why, but you'll be watching alone because I'll be too busy bawling my eyes out.
So what can possibly top that? What is the biggest tearjerker ever to come out of the House of Mouse, the Happiest Place on Earth? It's...

Movie: Bambi
Tearjerker: Do I really have to tell you?

Yes, doubtless an unoriginal choice... but a deserved one. Every child born within the last 20-25 years who owned a video player has suffered the same traumatic childhood trauma, and that is seeing Bambi's mother being shot by hunters. Every. Single. Child. You can have been affected to a greater or lesser degree by other Disney (or Pixar) tearjerkers, but this is the one common denominator guaranteed to leave you crying hysterically.

Bonus round!
Just to counteract claims of bias, I present you with four uber-sad non-Disney childhood tearjerkers: Charlotte's Web (Paramount), The Iron Giant (Warner Bros.), The Land Before Time (Universal), and Snoopy, Come Home (20th Century Fox).

TODAY'S BOOK: "The Dog Who Wouldn't Be", by Farley Mowat ((c)1957)


Ah! Thank you for remembering Ol' Yeller! It's amazing how many people out there don't know that Ol' Yeller is a Disney movie.

Here are some more for you:
- The animated short, "The Ugly Duckling."
- The "I'm Lost" scene from Lilo & Stitch -- based on Disney's "The Ugly Duckling."
- Nani and Lilo in their goodbye ("Aloha Oe") scene, also from Lilo & Stitch
- The animated short, "The Little Matchgirl"
- Trusty's "death" scene in Lady & The Tramp
- Sully and Boo's farewell -- and re-meeting -- in Monsters, Inc.
- Orphaned Penny describing her plight to Rufus the cat in The Rescuers
- Jessie's plight during the song "When She Loved Me," from Toy Story 2. Gawd, that ALWAYS makes me bawl my head off -- and run to hug all the toys I've kept from childhood.
Forget Old Yeller, even I forgot that Homeward Bound is Disney's.

Some of your list I haven't seen, and the others didn't make the cut. (FYI, #16 would be Baloo's "death" at the end of The Jungle Book.)
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