December 26th, 2003


It used to be that I was able to watch TV and movies and just enjoy them – you know, appreciate the story, understand the cinematography, laugh at the mistakes – that kind of thing. Somewhere along the line, though, I got turned around – lost, maybe. I started getting involved in the movies. I started getting an adrenaline rush when the good guy was in a tight spot. I started feeling victorious when I bad guy got what he deserved. But, worst of all, I started crying.

Oh, man, did I ever.

Once it got started – and I still don’t know when or where – it got bad. It’s not just tear-jerking scenes, it’s a moment of triumph, a shared look between principal actors, a shot of a puppy that made it out of a fire alive. It’s everything!

Two examples for you, just to humiliate myself further:

1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the movie. Raphael (he’s the turtle that wears red, uses “sai” as his weapon, and has the bad attitude) gets mad at his brothers (fellow turtles), Leonardo in particular, and leaves for a while to cool off, get away, whatever. While he’s out, the Foot Clan (the bad guys) find him and beat the snot out of him. He puts up a good fight for a while, but they overwhelm him. The bad guys then deliver his unconscious and badly beaten body through the window of April O’Neal’s apartment where the other turtles are, and there’s a huge battle. April’s apartment building and family store are demolished, the Turtles are beaten, and they drive out to the country to April’s family farm to regroup and lick their wounds. Raphael is in some kind of coma, the Turtles are demoralized, and they don’t know what to do. They’re all moping around the farm, kicking at tufts of grass. Except Leo. Leo is on watch the whole time, keeping an eye on Raphael, who (whom?) they’ve stored in the bathtub. Here comes the moment: there’s a shot of Leo, obviously worn down by grief and dismay and lack of sleep, dozing in the chair next to the tub. All of a sudden, he hears Raphael’s weak voice say, “Hey, what’s a guy gotta do to get some food around here?” Leo jumps up and yells, “He’s awake! And he wants some food!” He then goes over to Raphael and starts to apologize to him about the fight they had before Raph left, and Raph says, “Leo, don’t.” Then they hug. At which point, the rest of the group shows up and Donatello says, “It’s a Kodak moment.”

Also at this point, I’m laughing through my tears. It gets me every time. Did I mention the name of this movie? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Featuring people dressed up in TURTLE costumes performing martial arts and making wisecracks?

2) Mighty Joe Young, the remake. Joe (a giant CGI gorilla) has just rescued a kid off the Ferris Wheel when he’s shot down/falls to the ground. His trainer? protector? friend? Charlize Theron runs over to him and starts crying because he’s very obviously dead. At this point, tears are already spilling out of my eyes. Then, when Joe opens his eyes and we find out he’s still alive (it is a kid’s movie, after all), the tears start in earnest.

Did I mention Joe is a giant gorilla? And that he’s computer animated? He’s not even a REAL giant gorilla?

Maybe all this crying at movies is a sign of weakness. Maybe it’s a sign of my tenderheartedness. Maybe…well, I don’t know what it is. It’s annoying, is what it is. There are so many huge things in my life that should (and do) cause me to cry on a regular basis – crying during a movie just seems so pointless and misplaced.

But that might be exactly why I do it – maybe I can’t fully register all the huge stuff, so I react to the stuff that’s put there specifically to cause me to react. It’s easy to react to Rambo’s visceral pain when his Vietnamese guide is senselessly killed in the jungle (no, I don’t cry at that part, I’m just using it as an example). It’s DANG easy to cry at Spock’s death and subsequent funeral scene in Star Trek II, even though you KNOW about Star Trek III. It’s easy to react to this things, because we’re supposed to.

But it seems to be a whole lot easier when you’re a crying fool like me.

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