Movies can make people laugh, and also make them cry as well. Very few films balance the two, or even try. Even those that stick to crying don’t often work, as they teeter on the fine line between poignancy and melodrama. Countless “chick flicks,” Oscar bait movies, and films based on Nicolas Sparks books have tried to make viewers sob, and only occasionally worked. But for those who want to go to theaters for a good cry, they have had to go outside the box lately. As it turns out, the movies that have jerked the most tears in the last two years have belonged to Pixar – as if they don’t hold enough records.
With Toy Story 3 now on DVD, adults now have to find other ways to hide their tears, since they can’t wear 3D glasses. But crying at Pixar movies has become a common thing to do, even if some still feel the need to hide it.
For the second straight year, a Pixar movie has made audiences weepy, when they’re not laughing or wowing at the CGI. Toy Story 3 brought home the sentiment at the end, while Up got viewers sobbing right off the bat. Not only has Pixar set the bar for animated films, and movies in general, they have also set the bar for tear jerking as well.
This trend isn’t a new thing, however, as Toy Story 3 isn’t even the first movie of the franchise to make fans weepy. Toy Story 2 marked a turning point for Pixar, as it became clear that the studio wasn’t a one hit wonder. Not only did they buck the trend of poor sequels, they showed their emotional power as well, by touching on what happens to neglected toys as we get older. The plight of Jesse the Cowgirl, to the tune of a sad Sarah McLachlan song, became Pixar’s first epic sad scene.
As the years went on, Pixar sprinkled in other moments that drew a lump in the throat. Among them was the final shot of Monsters Inc, Dory’s pleas for Marlin not to leave her in Finding Nemo, and the love story of Wall-E and Eve. But in the last two years, Pixar has relied more heavily on sentiment – and found another way to outshine the competition, by getting away with it.
The studio has long made films that aren’t just for kids, and with Up, they aimed right at the heartstrings of young and old adults – especially those in love. The now famous “Married Life” opening montage depicted an entire life together, right to the bitter end, to set up Carl Frederickson’s journey. Absolutely no one saw it coming – especially since the trailers kept Carl’s marriage a secret – but it was all anyone could talk about afterwards. While much of the movie was about adventure and laughs, it was the dramatic parts that made the film a step up.
With the memories of that montage hanging over Up, the remainder of the film had even higher stakes, and a higher emotional investment. It isn’t even the only tear-jerking moment of the movie, as a second wave comes when Carl takes another look at his wife’s “Adventure Book” Even if kids were too young to understand all that these scenes conveyed, their parents – at least those that have truly loved and lost – got the message.
Yet for all the emotion that Up stirred, Pixar was merely warming up for Toy Story 3. While Up had a sad beginning, Toy Story 3 bid its time until the end. Until then, the movie isn’t exactly a picnic, as the toys face abandonment and neglect. In essence, the “When She Loved Me” sequence of Toy Story 2 becomes the premise of this entire film.
But after an angst-filled first act, the adventure part takes over in the middle, just like with Up. Yet once the prison break movie satire ends, Toy Story 3 goes for the jugular. In fact, it tops Up in inspiring not one, but two crying jags in 15 minutes. However, while the first is in the face of death, the last is in the face of new life – and allows those on and off screen to say a hard good bye.
After everyone saw these sequences – again and again – it inspired debate on whether it was okay to cry at animated movies. However, there may be Pixar fans that have been crying at their movies for years, or have come close. The studio has put story above their famed visuals for years, and has redefined what American animated films can do and address. Along the way, they have fine tuned their abilities to make viewers weepy, and finally perfected that craft in the last two years.
Not a lot of movies make people laugh and cry, but those that do mostly come from an animated studio these days. In fact, the next time a Pixar film makes someone cry – which may not be long from now – perhaps critics and skeptics won’t consider it so odd anymore.
Washington Post- “The five Pixar movie moments most likely to make you cry”