Guy Cry Cinema

5 Game Changing Movies That Make Guys Cry


DISCLAIMER: This is not a series dedicated to proving men shouldn’t cry, or to suggest ONLY women cry and are therefore inferior. The goal of this series is to dispel the pre-established (yet flawed) notion that being “manly” and being disconnected from your emotions go hand-in-hand. Even the most macho of men enjoy and even shed a tear at films, and the sooner we can admit that the sooner the concept that one sex is better than the other can go away. While the approach to these articles is one of lighthearted comedy, the emotional core is valid. While men might be more hesitant to admit it, movies often times have the potential to make us cry, for example:

“Game Changing Movies”

There are some films that are so powerful, so impactful, so definitive that they cease to be films anymore. Like the iPod, these films become benchmarks of culture, and countless copycats and homages come afterwards just driving home the point of how important these movies are. Sure there’s merchandise and people who find flaws in the narrative, but at the end of the day you can define what decade you’re talking about by listing one of these films. “Oh, that’s the decade that X movie came out,” you might say, though in reality there’s usually more than one of these game-changing movies per 10-year span. These movies define genres and sometimes even start new ones. Motifs and clichés that make an audience groan due to overuse…they were done the first time in these films and usually done best as well. Being so well known and exposed, you might think it obvious that every facet of these movies has been explored, but it’s important to remind ourselves how good they are. And remind ourselves how they make us cry.

1. Star Wars: A New Hope

I somewhat lump The Empire Strikes Back into this entry as well, but you can’t deny that Hollywood wouldn’t have been able to take the ballsy gambles it did with Empire without this film coming first and doing as well as it did. Ending a movie with the main characters either crippled or captured by the enemy? Previously unheard of at the time, yet think how many movies follow that pattern now! The rich worlds, colorful characters, otherworldly–yet oddly familiar–motivations all conspire to craft a film that clearly defined not only a generation, but a culture. Hell, there’s a legally recognized religion that came from this movie! Between Spaceballs, “Robot Chicken,” and “Family Guy” all spoofing Star Wars yet staying respectful to the source material, plus the metric ton of money in merchandise, this film was truly a game changer.
Ignoring all we know about the sequels and expanded lore, Luke’s journey is incredibly sad in this first installment. He didn’t so much decide to go on his hero’s journey, but his family was burned alive. Not much of a choice between something and burnt, crispy nothing. Then he bonds with a new father figure WHO THEN ALSO DIES! Note, at this point we didn’t know that Obi was magic-alive, so for all we knew Luke was losing his mind from grief when he heard Obi talking. That’s dark.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Another Harrison Ford movie, and another game changer. Built around the 1930s serial adventures that director Stephen Spielberg grew up with, the entire movie has a delightful feeling of aged leather. It’s hard to think of a movie with a protagonist both born for action and highly intellectual. A perfect melding of Captain Kirk’s punch first, ask questions later attitude and Captain Picard’s tendency to attempt education and rational thinking above all else, and Indy isn’t even in Star Trek! The movie has a ride in Disneyland that for my money is the best ride in the park, the music is so overwhelmingly adventurous that hearing it makes you want to jump on a chair and start whipping things, and a protagonist so charismatic even his weaknesses seem cool. I’m afraid of snakes because of Indy! This film is truly the grandfather of modern adventure movies, and all future adventurers will forever be compared to Indy. Why do you think Chris Pratt is being considered for the next Indy film? It’s because he was an adventurer in Jurassic World and people started the comparisons early.

Indiana Jones part 1 is also sad, notably the Ark being put away at the end of the film. Everyone can quote the “top men” line, but the McGuffin of the film being hidden away after Indy worked so hard to get it is a huge blow to Indy. Then couple that with all the other boxes in that warehouse, we are left to assume there’s countless wonders and marvels the world could benefit from…all locked away due to fear. Sure, probably not best to open the Ark again, but couldn’t we at least display it to prove a few lingering questions about the meaning of life and all that? So sad.

3. The Terminator

Remember when this franchise was good? Pepperidge Farm remembers, but also everyone who’s watched the original lately. Any film released about a killer robot from now until eternity will be compared to this original film. Every time travel film trying to explain it’s time rules to the audience will have to either say it’s Terminator rules, or not Terminator rules. Anyone who is named Sarah or John Conner will have to be willing to put up with quotes from this film…or you know…just don’t name your kids after a movie. Hiring an Austrian bodybuilder to be a time-traveling mech was brilliant, especially with his tentative grasp on pronunciation. The music which was little more than a beat, the color scheme of blue cold darkness, and the simple plot that left much to the imagination in a good way…so good.

The movie actually doesn’t hide the sad part, but rather makes it front and center. Poor Kyle Reese lived in a Terminator-filled hellscape his entire life, only lifted out of it by a picture of a woman. He fell in love with that woman, and then finally got the chance to meet her. What followed was being constantly chased, and eventually murdered. Sure he got to sleep with her once, but his PTSD was kinda ruining the whole thing. His life is very depressing, and a leap to the past really didn’t help at all.

4. Clerks

Yes, Kevin Smith is polarizing, but the only reason you even know Kevin Smith started with Clerks. His explosion onto the stage with a low budget almost plot-less piece of art proved to an entire generation that Hollywood was no longer a closed-door affair. The price barrier to making a movie had dropped with tech getting smaller and cheaper. This movie showed what you could do with a group of friends, a decent script, and a modicum of effort.

Many have said that Kevin Smith should branch out in his style, then when he did people berated him for not sticking to what he knew. Ultimately his first film was a wake-up call to a generation of indie-directors, and on the whole that’s been a good thing.
The sad part? A story about early 20s hipster geeks that have delusions that they’re somehow superior then the customers they help. In the end, the revelation is that they’re not better at all. This is a tough pill to swallow, especially for those of us that have self-esteem issues. One of the ways to make yourself feel good is to think that you’re special and destined to be great. That’s a crutch that makes us wait for greatness to come to us instead of actively seeking it. this movie highlights that lazy approach to greatness, and that this approach doesn’t yield results. Tough love.

5. The Matrix

Don’t think that these are in order. The Matrix isn’t necessarily the most game-changey of all the game-changers. That being said, you can’t say the idea that the world around you isn’t real won’t forever be attached in some way to this movie. Had it been released a little later than 1999, the internet probably would have spoiled the big plot idea. Luckily it found that sweet spot between a generation that felt oppressed by the one percent, and a technological revolution that made the ideas in this film plausible. The visuals were stylized and unique, the music was techno and cool, and like it or not it kinda defined the 90s and part of the 00s. Even Equilibrium a film that came out three years later with Christian Bale, was compared and marketed as similar to The Matrix.

The part that makes me sad is an easy-to-miss moment when Neo is in a car being driven to his next action scene. He comments that he used to eat noodles at a passing restaurant, the subtext is his realization that none of his life’s memories actually happened. Consider all the small moments that make up a person’s identity, suddenly and mathematically proven to be untrue. How he was able to function as a human being after that realization is beyond me, but perhaps speaking like Keanu Reeves is the worst of all possible fates.

Like what you see? Secure enough in your masculinity for more? Check out more Guy Cry Cinema or watch Dan on No Right Answer, the weekly debate show that knows what’s really important: Pointlessly arguing about geek culture.


About the author

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.