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 light-hearted 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:

“Guilty Pleasure Movies”

I suppose the guilt in question varies in strength depending on what gender you are, and how insecure you are in said role. Traditionally there are some films that guys are embarrassed to enjoy, dismissing them in public yet relishing them in private. The trick is when enough bros admit they like these films, a tipping point is reached. Once it’s no longer the minority mindset to pretend not to enjoy these movies, everyone in the room feels comfortable enough to talk about their favorite parts. Why do we need to overcome this hurdle of hiding, this barrier of brotherhood? Once again, the self-inflicted stereotype that guys don’t like certain types of films. I say let’s get to that tipping point, let’s admit to enjoying some excellent films, regardless of the fear of being judged by our peers. Chances are our peers like the same films, but don’t want to admit it. I’m admitting it, and hopefully you can too. Maybe even shed a tear or two while you’re at it.

1. The Princess Bride
Look at the title and tell me that if you hadn’t seen this film and knew nothing about it, you wouldn’t assume it was a straight-to-DVD Disney channel tween movie. Hell, even Fred Savage within the film balks at the concept of listening to the book version of the story based on the title. But just as Columbo/Grandpa convinced him to shut up and listen, so should we guys convince our brethren to view this film. Sometimes in my head I mix this film with Robin Hood: Men in Tights for their similarities, which should give you a shorthand of the comedy, action and good ol-fashioned adventure that awaits you.

I’ve said before that the tear-eliciting moments of this film are of the film’s secret star, Andre the Giant. Much like Heath Ledger, Andre had been known for other things, but the majority of the public knows him from this one movie due to a magic combination of timing and talent. Imagine all of the films of today that use Flash Gordon or Bill Murray as cameos, how awesome it would be to have Andre the Giant showing up in them. We miss you, big G.

2. Mean Girls

Again, the title immediately turns away the uninitiated. The subject matter out of context might alienate men even more. A girl starts a new school and doesn’t fit in with other girls, but then she fits in too well and then all the girls are mean to each other. Yea, not exactly a sequel to Predator but dammit if guys who pass this film by are doing themselves a disservice. First of all, the jokes fly at you at an astonishing rate, and most of them land spectacularly. Tina Fey has her expert hands all over this one, and the quality of the characters mixed with the slapstick accents are perfect. Rachel McAdams is so funny it makes you angry that she keeps doing romantic movies instead of following in Tina Fey’s footsteps and going full comedy. Honestly this film is funnier and less uncomfortable for guys than The Hot Chick, ironically also starring McAdams.

The height of this film, an original story that isn’t gender-swapping or remaking a previous film like SOME OTHER films I could mention, only highlights the tragedy that Lindsay Lohan utterly destroyed herself. At least Mel Gibson had a full and successful career before revealing that he’s a piece of human garbage. Lindsay was innocent, attractive, funny, talented…and then she wasn’t any of those. It’s a waste. At least we still have Rachel McAdams.

3. Crazy, Stupid Love

This is another one of those movies where there’s several different story lines that seemingly have nothing to do with each other, but then in the end all the stories intersect. I’ve seen a few of these types, and off the bat anything with Hugh Grant turns me ill right away. This film does this shtick better than any other, giving a plot reason for keeping the stories separate that pays off in dividends of comedy at the end. I’m a big fan of Steve Carell, but I didn’t expect to like Ryan Gosling as much as I did with this film. If you haven’t seen this film, think of it as a more grown-up version of The 40 Year Old Virgin where it’s not that Carell hasn’t had sex, but can’t get over his wife leaving him. Trust me, see it, it’s fantastic.

That being said, guys come in all ages and some who might have experienced a break-up of their own might find the themes of this film a little too close to home. The idea of your love no longer loving you is tough, but coupling that with the realization that your entire persona was built around being with that person and without them you are lost is…rough. It is in real life, and it is when watching a movie about it. But then Emma Stone is there so it’s all good.

4. When Harry Met Sally

It’s a classic. Mic drop.

Oh, you want more? The film is based around a romance between a guy and a girl who start out as friends, and never quite connects until the end. That’s what makes this a unique film; it’s not about their romance together, it’s about all the other romances that act as hurdles or learning experiences for them when they eventually do get together. One might be in a relationship while the other is single, then the tables turn, then one makes the other angry, and so on and so on. Both Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan had yet to inject melted Barbie dolls into their faces at this point in their careers, so it’s a delight to watch them verbally spar with each other. A classic comedy, a touching romance, and dammit guys you need to admit you like this film!

The sad part is that the film ends with them getting together, but it’s not to last. From personal experience as well as observed, if a mate has known you while you’ve dated other people, they might feel in some part that you’re settling for them. Why else would you not have chosen them first? Sure, Harry and Sally might stay together, but there’s an implicit weekly argument where they never quite trust that the other person is truly happy. It’s really a tragic ending.

5. As Good as it Gets

It’s easy to say you like a Jack Nicholson movie, but it gets a little harder to admit you like his romantic comedies. Throw in Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear playing a gay man and you’ve got an uphill battle. But pushing past the stereotypes and preconceptions of what this film is, guys and girls both can enjoy this film regardless of their sensibilities. Jack plays basically the worst possible person while simultaneously the most enjoyable: a successful writer with a crippling amount of neuroses and lack of social skills that makes him the poster child for any number of mental health spectrums. Somehow we watch him mistreat everyone to the point of being unredeemable, then miraculously become redeemable anyways! Greg Kinnear starts out as a metaphorical punching bag, then literal, and acts as a catalyst for Jack to become a human being again. Helen Hunt is there…which is really the best thing I can say about her, but that’s my own personal bias.

The scene where Greg Kinnear gets beaten half to death by robbers is very hard to watch. The scene where his dog picks Jack Nicholson over himself is even worse. Sure it’s revealed Jack had bacon or something in his pocket, but it’s the kick while Greg was down that really hurts. Jack, go back to menacing Batman.

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

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