When cruel movie overlords want to cue the audience waterworks, they go for the Mom Button. You know, a touching moment, a grave illness, words of advice, and, in the most extreme cases, a death. And that stuff sticks with you.
Now, I’m not saying that around Mother’s Day (today!), I think of dying mothers. That’s not the case. But this is the day when you’re most susceptible to pressing of the Mom Button. Warning: If you want to cry, continue reading. If you want to cry with us and make others cry, too, share your pick for best mom-related tear-jerker moment from a movie.
I frequently feel more for cartoons and animals than I do for people. (As April from Parks and Rec would say, “They should be rewarded for not being people. I hate people.”) So watching the clip of Littlefoot’s last conversation with his mother in The Land Before Time on YouTube still reduces me to tears. The real ugly crying comes around here though:
Mommy dino: I’ll be with you — even if you can’t see me.
Littlefoot: What do you mean if I can’t see you? I can always see you.
I’m glad you didn’t ask for TV because then I’d be writing a list of every Gilmore Girls episode ever. For movies, though, I cannot think of a scene that punched me in the stomach more than Sally Fields in Steel Magnolias. Whether you’re a mother or not, I think it’s impossible to watch Fields unravel without getting choked up.
Stepmom in its entirety. (Maybe not the part about snowblowing.) I once saw this movie reduce an entire bus of bitchy 14-year-girls into quivering puddles of tears. Full disclosure: I was one of those girls.
One True Thing is the saddest movie ever. Meryl Streep is this really loving, sweet, seemingly simple woman who’s dying of cancer, and Renee Zellwegger plays her sophisticated but frigid daughter. Renee has to leave New York City to take care of her mom, and there’s this moment near the end of the movie where Meryl gives Renee a final word of advice before she dies, and it’s so tragic. There’s also a Christmas tree lighting where Meryl grabs Renee’s hand… I don’t know if this movie is actually good or just really, really emotionally manipulative.
And in Joy Luck Club, June always thought her mom was disappointed in her, until a dinner scene toward the end when her mom tells her: “You have best-quality heart. You have style no one can teach. Must be born this way. I see you.” Anyone, male or female, who’s ever had an Asian parent started crying at that moment.
In 50/50, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character spends most of the movie almost underreacting to his cancer diagnosis. He seems, by turns, really brave and almost embarrassed about it — no big deal, I can get over it, etc. That only really starts to crack near the end of the movie, when he goes in for an incredibly risky operation. During the movie, it’s been established that he has kind of a difficult relationship with his mom, played by Anjelica Huston — although “kind of difficult” in this sense just means he doesn’t call enough and has grown distant, which pretty much sums up most twentysomething dudes’ relationships with their mom. Anyway, she’s there with him in the hospital, right before he goes in for surgery. He starts freaking out when the doctor administers the anesthesia — like, seriously bugging out. His mom tells him, “Sweetie, you’re gonna be just fine,” and they hug. OH MY GOD I JUST WATCHED IT AGAIN AND I’M CRYING RIGHT NOW.
Nothing brings me to tears faster than any given five-minute interval of Stepmom. Even happy parts like with Susan Sarandon and Co. dancing to “Ain’t No Mountain High” make me sniffle.