You know those movies that tug at your heart strings, make the back of your throat tickle, and cause your eyes to water? Before you know it, you’re either crying or trying your hardest not to. You can’t help it, some stories just possess that movie magic. But sometimes, the emotional manipulation just doesn’t work. Maybe it’s bad writing, lazy acting, poor set-up, or a rotten underscore, but something ruins the moment. Here are 10 examples of movies that try to make you cry, but don’t quite hit the mark (general spoiler warning):
10. Twilight Trilogy
Even the biggest “Twi-hards” write off the cinematic telling of the sparkly vampire, the obnoxious emo-girl (who has the worst Mary-Sue name ever, by the way), and the creepy werewolf. Bella’s constant indecision and permanent self-loathing quickly wears thin. The love triangle between the Emo Swan, Twinkle Toes, and Hairy Boy is too superficial and grating to elicit even a tear from the audience.
9. Wuthering Heights
“CATHY!!!” Man, that Heathcliff is one whiny dude. You can’t really blame him, Cathy does like to torture him with her mind games. Then again, Heathcliff does the same thing to her. The two lead characters are so despicable, it’s nearly impossible to muster up much sympathy for either of them.
8. St. Elmo’s Fire
A bunch of privileged brats moan and groan over the growing pains of leaving university and entering the real world. There’s great actors in this one: Bender, the Basketcase, Sporto, Demi, the Lowe, Blaine, and Claire – wait, Molly R. isn’t in this one? Oh, sure, next you’ll tell me it’s not a John Hughes movie, either. Well, even Brat Pack power and Judd’s amazing nostrils aren’t enough to save this one. It has its moments, but it just fails to really choke you up – unless, of course, you’re trying not to puke at the plethora of pantsuits.
7. Now, Voyager
First, my condolences for those of you who have shared my misfortune in watching this movie. This is one of the schmaltziest, unethical, and just plain annoying movies ever made. The infidelity isn’t the main problem in this one; it’s the clandestine lovers’ manipulation of a child that surrounds this movie with such murky ethics. The ending scene, that is clearly designed to evoke tears, only succeeds in causing viewers to roll their eyes and thank the stars that it’s all over.
6. Jerry Maguire
“You had me at ‘hello’” – seriously? Seriously? Jerry Maguire is a manipulative, slimy weasel who steps on everyone on his way to the top; and that includes his love interest, Dorothy, the single mom he marries for financial and selfish reasons. Jerry uses and abuses (emotionally, at any rate) poor Dorothy throughout the movie, and it isn’t until the end that he realizes he truly cares for her. After his persistent maltreatment of her, we’re supposed to be moved by his declaration of love at the end, but the only thing I’m moved to do is to give Dorothy the name of a good divorce attorney.
5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Holly Golightly’s wardrobe may be intriguing but that’s the biggest highlight of this movie. The film serves as a sort of weary love letter to New York City and that’s all fine and dandy, but it fails to conjure much empathy for the plights of the protagonists. While Holly delivers a fantastic monologue on the 21 Club, she does little to provoke tears for her lifestyle. I’m pretty sure you’re also supposed to grow teary when she reunites with the clean-cut boy in the end, but I’m more interested in the poor wet cat running down the street.
4. City of Angels
This movie would be okay and would even make a lot of people cry if – and this is a great big IF – the ending was better executed. I’ll tell you a story: during the climatic scene when Meg Ryan stretches out her arms and looks to the sky whilst riding the bike, I made a ridiculous (albeit dark) joke about how funny it would be if a car hit her because of her love fever; and then it actually happened. My friend thought I had heard a spoiler, but I hadn’t. I simply had thought of the silliest, most asinine plot device a writer could use at the moment. How was I to know the movie would be that silly? Yeah.
3. Gone With the Wind
Ah, Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara: two of cinema’s most famous names. They’re the couple who constantly fight and, well, you know the other word. The point is, they’re a rocky couple at best. They claim to love each other, sometimes, but the hate seems much stronger between them. This goes far beyond the Darcy/Lizzie dynamic. There is real, pure, unadulterated loathing between the Rhett and Scarlett. Most of all, let’s not forget the bizarre and disturbingly-often-romanticized implied rape scene when Rhett carries Scarlett up the stairs. The “love” affair between Rhett and Scarlett makes me cringe rather than cry.
E.T. was a wildly inventive movie when it came out. The special effects, the subject matter, the whole thing was ahead of its time, there’s no doubt about that. The performance by the little boy who befriends the wrinkly alien is truly impressive, and it’s fun to see such a young Drew Barrymore. There are some great moments in this movie. It’s a sentimental classic for many who grew up uttering the phrase “phone home”. Yet, something just doesn’t quite work right and, for some reason, this movie fails to make you really cry. It’s touching, yes, but not quite heart-wrenching.
Okay, I’m sure I’ll be in hot water for this one, but I have to name this as my number one here. Titanic is an amazing cinematic feat in many ways and, I admit, I do enjoy this film. This movie is full of so many cheesy lines, you can’t resist quoting them as you watch. Or maybe that’s just me since I worked at a cinema when this movie came out, so I had to see it ten thousand times. At any rate, the movie is fairly entertaining. However, the big issue with this one is obvious – everyone already knows the ending. It’s difficult to make viewers cry when they already know what’s coming. Plus, Rose’s line “I’ll never let go, Jack” falls a bit flat when she does, indeed, let go of his hand a short time later (never mind that his hand was icy cold by then – a promise is a promise, young lady!). So, while Titanic may make a lot of girls swoon, it doesn’t really make the audience cry.