Monday, September 29, 2014

10 Movies That It's Okay For Guys to Cry About

I've been seeing a lot of these lists lately, so I've decided to jump on the band wagon myself and give a list of my own.

Movies are great for entertainment and escaping the world around us.  However, there are some movies out there that will literally make you cry.  Normally, we would think that it's mainly girls who are guilty of this, and you would be right if we're talking something like "Titanic" or "The Notebook."  (Seriously, if you're a guy who cries over those movies, or watches them at all for that matter, just stop...unless you're dating someone.)  But, there are some movies out there that guys can become pretty emotional about, too.  Now, if you're thinking, "No, that's not me.  I never cry over movies," you're either a liar or soulless.  Guys shouldn't be afraid to show their emotions, should the need arise.

So, here are 10 movies that it's okay for men to cry about (at least, I hope so because if they're not, that means I'm a wuss).  These are in no particular order.  (Spoilers ahead).  (Also, some clips may contain language you don't prefer.)

1.  The Green Mile

I've seen this movie three times now, the last one being a few days ago.  I honestly think I got more emotional the last time than the other two times.  There are several moments in this film that would induce tears.  One would be when the mouse is crushed, but then it's okay because John Coffey heals it.  The most disturbing moment in the film is definitely Eduard Delacroix's sabotaged execution, where the audience is forced to watch as a malicious guard purposefully forgets to wet the sponge for the electric chair and Del basically burns to death inside his hood.  And, if you've somehow gone most of the movie without emotion, you will definitely lose it at the end when the innocent John Coffey is electrocuted for a crime he didn't commit.  (This is sad to me mainly because it brings to mind another innocent man who died, and, coincidentally, has the same initials as John Coffey.)

2.  Good Will Hunting-At first, the title character appears to be just the standard genius wasting his life that we see all the time.  But, thanks to some digging by his therapist, Sean (played excellently by Robin Williams), we discover he also has a dark past of abuse at the hands of foster parents.  Because of this, Will finds it hard to accept love.  The tear-jerking scene comes at the end when Sean repeatedly tells Will that what happened isn't his fault, and Will breaks down sobbing in Sean's arms.

3.  Saving Private Ryan-Not really any need to explain this one too much.  It shows the reality of war better than most of its peers, which any veteran can tell you is definitely reason to lose it.

4.  Stand By Me-Where to begin?  At first, the movie starts out as just an adventure with typical twelve-year-old boys.  But, this movie does have some surprisingly intense moments, some of which may hit a little close to home for some.  One moment is when Chris Chambers is lamenting his inability to rise above his family's bad reputation and his grim outlook for his future. Another is when Gordie Lachance dreams about his brother's funeral and how his father flat-out said that it should have been Gordie.  Gordie eventually breaks down saying, "My dad hates me!" to which Chris answers, "No, he just doesn't know you."  The last heart-breaking moment is when Gordie, as an adult, tells us the future of his friends, including how they eventually parted ways with two of them and how Chris was stabbed as an adult.


5.  Dead Poets Society-Yet another fantastic Robin Williams vehicle.  This tells the story of a man who taught young boys to "seize the day."  Unfortunately, not everyone agreed with him, particularly the father of one of the boys, whose controlling ways become so bad, that the boy eventually shoots himself.  Robin Williams' character is blamed and fired from the school.  But the boys show him a final tribute as he's leaving his classroom for the last time (shown below).  And, of course, it's even sadder now that Williams truly has left us.

6.  The Shawshank Redemption-If you know me, you knew this one would be coming eventually.  Tear-jerking moments include when the captain of the guards beats a prisoner to death, when Brooks Hatlen hangs himself, when one of the prisoners is shot for no reason, and you might well up a little when Andy talks about his dream of going to a place it doesn't look like he'll ever get to.  But, this movie also produces some tears of joy when Andy finally escapes his personal hell and makes it to freedom.

7.  God's Not Dead-Many emotional moments, so, to save time, I'll just list them all and move on.  Mom has dementia, Amy has cancer, Radisson's mom died of cancer, Ayisha gets slapped and disowned for her faith, Amy has a breakdown when it hits her that she's going to die, Radisson reads the last letter his mother wrote, demented mother has unexpected moment of spiritual clarity, Radisson gets hit by a car and accepts Christ right before dying, and the Newsboys sing "God's Not Dead."

8.  Courageous- Come on, the guy's sweet little daughter died.  Cry, or everyone will know your heartlessness.  Also, Adam's speech at the end truly inspires awe.  And, let's not forget Nathan's speech at his father's grave.

9.  Toy Story 3-Yes, even the animated films are capable of producing tears.  This one is particularly emotional if you're like me and you grew up on the first two movies.  Seriously, that trash incinerator scene?  It's almost like the director said, "Hey, let's forget about the fact that kids are watching this, and just destroy everyone emotionally."  That moment when the toys are holding hands, waiting for their fiery death is among the most intense I've seen in an animated film.  And, of course, the end where Andy gives up the toys is sad because he not only says goodbye to his toys in this moment, but his childhood, too.

10.  The Passion of the Christ-From His condemnation, to His scourging, to His crucifixion, there is not a dry eye in the house when this movie is showing.  Admittedly, if you're not a Christian, you probably wouldn't get too much out of this, but if you are, you will be destroyed by the graphic realism of what our Lord went through for us.

(Warning:  Don't watch if you have a weak stomach or heart.)

So, there you go fellas.  Now you know when it's okay to show your emotions you pretend you don't have.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go somewhere and cry for a very long while...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How Does "Bruce Almighty" Relate To Spirituality...and Me?

"Bruce Almighty" is both a hilarious and touching movie.  It contains probably the most respectful portrayal of God there is in a secular movie (#MorganFreeman'sAwesomeness).  God is shown as a benevolent Creator, who cares for his creation and also has a sense of humor.  And the lesson Bruce (played hilariously by Jim Carrey) learns through Him is a lesson we could all take to heart.

For those of you who haven't seen the movie, here's the basic plot:  Bruce is a news anchor who's unhappy with his life.  He's unhappy with his home, his dog refuses to be housebroken, he loses a promotion to a backstabbing co-worker, and he finally loses his job after having an on-air meltdown.  He blames God for his troubles, and rails continuously against the Almighty.  God hears Bruce and gives him a challenge.  If Bruce thinks he can do better, God will give him his powers.  There are only two conditions:  He can't tell anyone, and he can't interfere with free will.

We get a number of great spiritual nuggets as we go along, and, unlike the other two movies I've done this with, the spirituality is explicit, not hidden.

It's no surprise that Bruce uses his powers for himself.  He parts traffic, gets revenge on a gang that mugged him earlier, parts his soup in half a la Moses,get his job and promotion, makes his enemies look stupid, and makes his girlfriend...ahem...more appealing.

But all is not well.  Bruce is hearing voices that he learns are prayers.  He decides to save time by just saying "Yes" to everyone, which leads to disaster for all involved.  Here we learn why some of our prayers don't get quite the answer we want.  We truly don't know what's best for us.  Only God really knows that.

Bruce's selfishness causes his girlfriend to leave him.  Here, we get one of the movies most poignant moments.  Bruce asks God, "How do you make someone love you, without affecting free will?"  God just answers, "Welcome to my world, son.  You figure that one out, you let me know."  Wow.

Bruce does learn to start using his powers for good.  He even gives his promotion back to his arrogant co-worker because he knows he's really the best man for the job.

But, there is still disaster.  And Bruce's separation from his girlfriend becomes even harder when he hears her praying for God to allow her to stop loving him, so she can let him go.  Bruce can no longer stand it.  He kneels down in the street, and cries out to God, "I want You to decide what's best for me.  I surrender to your will!"

Bruce gets hit by a truck and finds himself with God.  He tells God what he wants for his girlfriend.  He wants her to find someone who will make her happy and see her the way he saw her then.  God knows Bruce has learned his lesson and sends him back to Earth where he does his best to be a better man.

Again, while this is all good, there are some potential content concerns that should be mentioned.  The movie does contain some foul language, inappropriate humor, and the fact that Bruce living with his girlfriend is never brought up in the Heavenly chit-chat.  Also, while God is clearly shown, Christianity isn't necessarily.  God also mentions how He's talked with Gandhi before, so the Gospel isn't really communicated, other than that we need God in our lives.  Then again,let's be honest. Expecting an explicit Gospel message in a Jim Carrey film is unrealistic.  We're lucky we got what we got.

I'd also like to address how it relates to me.  I, too, have been in the same place Bruce was.  I have been in a spot where I would become angry with God and say similar things to what he said.  ("Oh, God, why do You hate me?"  "The only one not doing His job is You!"  "You suck!")

And this is why the scene near the end of Bruce kneeling in the street is so beautiful to me.  That scene of complete surrender serves as a great reminder that, no matter what, God is the answer, and He is always ready to help us when we call on Him, no matter what we may have done.  That realization alone is what makes this movie worth watching, even more than once.