Five Movie Moments That Made Me Ugly Cry

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Moments That Made Me Ugly Cry or ROTFL

In what has developed into a series of sorts, I have previously written about Five TV Moments That Made Me Ugly Cry and Five TV Moments That Made Me Literally ROTFL.

Today I tackle movies with scenes that brought the tears, and I don’t mean a single tear falling down the cheek.  Being Christmastime I felt it would be an appropriate topic. Even though I feature no Christmas movies below, there are many of those that fit this category for many people, especially the Hallmark movies I keep hearing about on Facebook! Please feel free to share your moments below.  On to my list…


The Moment: The Wedding During The Closing Credits

This movie is a landmine of cry moments. One of my family members that shall remain nameless told me he bawled when Chick’s ex-wife told their son, “That’s not a salesman, that’s your father.” Many people in my theater openly sobbed during Harry’s goodbye to Grace. But I made it all the way through the actual movie, just to completely lose it during the closing credits. As Grace’s real-life father and his band sing “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing,” we get a glimpse of her wedding to AJ and the camera pans to the front row where you see Bear, Chick, Rockhound and rest, along with huge blown up pictures of Harry and the others who died. Just emotional torture.

I have heard scathing critiques of this movie for nearly 20 years now but they don’t bother me. It’s a superb blend of action, drama, comedy, suspense, and romance to me. And it closes with an unforgettable heart-wrenching moment.

Rocky III

The Moment: Rocky’s Reaction to Mick Dying

I wasn’t old enough to see this movie in the theater and I will never forget the first time watching it with the family in Tookeydoo, SC when I was around six years old. Watching Rocky come to the realization that Mick was gone, his loud crying and tears in response moved me so deeply I got up and left the room, and had a good, long, sympathetic cry myself. I put on sunglasses and came back as though I were fooling everyone else about what just happened.

This film is a perfect installment of the Rocky canon. From the first note of “Eye of the Tiger” in the opening credits to the stunning twist with Apollo training Rocky to Eye of the Tiger reprising at the end with Rocky giving Apollo his “favor,” it continues the Rocky narrative exceptionally. The tragic loss of Rocky’s manager in the first act is a masterpiece stroke of plot development, complete with A-level acting by Stallone and Talia Shire and an exceptional musical arrangement by Bill Conti (appropriately titled “Mick”). A poignant moment in a movie series filled with them.

Return of the King

The Moment: “My Friends…You bow to no one.”

I love these books but here is one of several film moments that elicits deep emotion in a way the books do not, at least to me (while the reverse is often true also). Tolkien told a story of a fantasy Hobbit race that conveyed biblical ideas like ‘The last will be first” and “The humble will be exalted”. And at this moment Peter Jackson brought it to life in a powerful way. A heartwarming, joy-filled, tear-jerking way. These halflings were not warriors like Gimli or Legolas or royalty like Aragorn or magically powerful like Gandalf. Yet they destroyed the ring, saved Faramir and helped overthrow Saruman, and braved all manner of hell on earth to do so.  And in a moment where all was right in the world (albeit a complex fantasy world), they appropriately attempted to show honor.  But were given it instead.

Storytelling does not get better than this. The first time I saw it I could do nothing other than bow my head and shamelessly weep. They were tears that expressed a satisfaction and pleasure I long for in real life but rarely experience.

Bruce Almighty

The Moment: Bruce Prays for Grace

Even though it is a bit irreverent at times, there are moments in this movie where I think they capture what God is like. And in this moment they capture what it means to truly love someone, to the point that you want what is best for them even if it means losing them. Bruce asked God for someone to see Grace always, as he sees her now, “through Your eyes”. What a moment. What a prayer. Tears on top of tears for me. If there was any doubt that Jim Carrey could act, The Truman Show ended it and this moment obliterated it.

I’ll be honest, before I met Kayla and when I met Kayla I prayed this prayer for every girl I went out with or wanted to go out with. It is a hard prayer to pray. When you’re 35 and single, it’s perhaps the hardest. I even downloaded the soundtrack with the music that plays behind this scene and listened to it regularly. It had that big an impact on me.

Cast Away

The Moment: Kelly Has to Go Home Now

It had a lot to do with my life circumstances at the time and not just the plot development of the movie, but I have no doubt that when I watched this scene in March of 2003 that I cried longer and harder than at any other on this list or any list.

I was struggling in real life with personal loss. My roommate and de facto psychiatrist Josh Crowe encouraged me with “Who knows what the tide could bring?” from this movie. So I rented it and watched it that night. Kelly had given up on Chuck being alive. She was married to another man. And when Chuck visits and goes to leave and she runs after him in the rain they have the following exchange:

“I love you Chuck! You’re the love of my life!”

“I love you, too, Kelly. More than you’ll ever know.”

And then after a moment in the car he tells her, “You have to go home now.” That destroyed me. It was too real. But the mourning was therapeutic. And Josh and I relive this series of events often even to this day.

So that’s my list, at least for today. I should mention that, as I said when I reviewed Finding Dory, that Finding Nemo would be on this list but it made me cry like twelve times so it wouldn’t fit.

Please comment on moments you feel similarly about if you wish!

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Gowdy Cannon

I am currently the pastor of Bear Point FWB Church in Sesser, IL. I previously served for 17 years as the associate bilingual pastor at Northwest Community Church in Chicago. My wife, Kayla, and I have been married nearly seven years and have a 3-year-old son, Liam Erasmus. I have been a student at Welch College in Nashville and at Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. I love The USC (the real one in SC, not the other one in CA), Seinfeld, John 3:30, Chic-Fil-A, Dumb and Dumber, the book of Job, preaching and teaching, and arguing about sports.

14 thoughts on “Five Movie Moments That Made Me Ugly Cry

  • December 1, 2017 at 10:35 am

    I love this! My list is really long. REALLY long. I’ll only name a few:

    1. Frodo and Sam on the side of Mount Doom as the lava flows around them with Sam talking about never getting the chance to marry Rosie Cotton.

    2. The end of The New World where Pocahontas/Rebecca walks up behind John Rolfe and takes his hand. That crushes me every single time I watch this movie.

    3. The Impossible. I watch the last 20 minutes of the film with blurry eyes. Every time.

    • December 1, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      I probably could get to 15 or 20 movies if I tried. Especially if you count classics I saw as a child like Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows.

      Good list!

      If I could have added a 6th, I would have added Cool Runnings. The part at the end where it says, “They returned to Jamaica as heroes. They returned to the Olympics 4 years later…as equals” and their picture is put up in the shop. Big cry moment for me. Even if their was a lot of dramatic license taken to achieve it.

  • December 1, 2017 at 11:57 am

    I share a lot of the same list (got married at 39 btw) but the Rocky moment that always gets me is in the first one. Apollo is running him down and making fun of him in the press conference and he laughs it off. Watching it on tv with Adrian and Paula he insists it doesn’t bother him. But as he walks out the door, just him and Adrian, he quietly confesses it did bother him. Rocky finally found the one person he could tell the full truth to. That one got me for obvious reasons

    • December 1, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Family Fued clap “Good answer!!” Seriously, that is an awesome answer. That tells me you *get* Rocky and don’t see it as just about extravagant boxing matches and montages. It’s a story about a man and his wife and their journey. I can’t wait til Creed 2 comes out and I hopefully can do an entire article dedicated to Rocky. You will be the audience for it. I don’t know that I cried during the moment you mention but I loved it. The “I just want to go the distance with Creed” quote is more famous but that quote is just as much Rocky as any. It’s so real and humble.

      You and I are very similar! (At least on the important stuff! Lol)

  • December 1, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    “YES!” on the Cool Runnings mention above. I also add the scene at the end of Hoosiers where they transition from celebrating on the court to the fade-out at the end with the lone student practicing in the Hickory gym under the oversized picture of the team.

    • December 1, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Hoosiers was emotional. The moment he measures the goals at 10 feet and when the guy reads 1 Samuel before the game are so good.

      I used to think Doug E. Doug was the coolest ever. I’ve seen Jokes involving him and Richard Sherman on Twitter.

  • December 2, 2017 at 9:22 am

    1. “Up.” Serious ugly-crying in my house 10 minutes into that movie. Totally not expecting that from an animated family movie.
    2. I held it together on the outside during “Inside Out,” but I was sobbing on the inside when Bing-Bong sacrificed himself.
    3. I sobbed like a baby during “Remember the Titans” when Gary got in the car accident.
    4. When I was 5 years old, I cried longer and harder during a movie either before or since as I watched “Pollyanna” when she fell out of the tree. I had a serious crush on Hayley Mills. “The Parenttrap” was my favorite movie because there were 2 of her.

    • December 2, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Love the comments. I had the misfortune of hearing too much about Up before watching. I still thoroughly enjoyed the beginning and the whole thing. I just let the expectation of crying prevent it.

  • December 2, 2017 at 9:40 am

    I couldn’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve cried watching a movie or reading a book. God has brought truth and blessing into my life so many times over the years, as well as just a “human touch.” One such time was watching “Remember the Titans” on a plane as we flew back from France. I was in the back, because they’re weren’t many passengers, and Judy turned around and saw me bawling! Another was when Donnie MacDonald and I were in a leadership conference in Orlando, and one of the instructors played the clip from “Mr. Holland’s Opus” when he gets to lead his music on the occasion of his retirement. We both kind of lost it.

    • December 2, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Mr. Holland’s Opus…I forgot about that one. Yeah, I cried during that one, too. Good stuff.

      • December 2, 2017 at 6:32 pm

        I bet if my mother Had a list it’ have 30 movies on it but that Mr. Holland’s Opus would be in the Top 5. She wanted me my whole life to be a teacher and have that kind of impact. It sort of came true. (The teacher part; i Have no idea what kind of impact I have)

        • December 2, 2017 at 9:47 pm

          So in other words, she wanted it to be Mr. Cannon’s Opus?

    • December 2, 2017 at 11:11 pm

      Yes! Both of those were movies I was trying to remember, along with David’s UP. Great choices all.

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