As Parks & Rec paragon of manliness Ron Swanson once said, "Crying is only okay in two places: funerals and the Grand Canyon." Normally, we’d have a very hard time disagreeing with the mustachioed sage, but in this case, Ron, you couldn’t be more off-base. Movies also make men cry. A lot. If you existed in real life, we’d be at your reclaimed-oak door as we speak, with a deep-fried turkey leg and a copy of Forrest Gump in hand, challenging you to watch the many travails of Mr. Gump without shedding a single tear.
What’s that you say, Ron? Challenge accepted? Okay, then. When you’re done with that, try the rest of these on for size, while we get help for the voices in our head.
(Editor's note: Some spoilers ahead. Also, this whole list could basically just be the ending scene from Marley & Me.)
The Shawshank Redemption
When: A recently paroled Red (Morgan Freeman) skips town and reunites with his old pal Andy (Tim Robbins) on a sparkling Mexican beach.
Why: Because Freeman’s monologue (“I hope to see my friend and shake his hand…”) punctuated by an epic embrace between the long-lost BFFs perfectly captures the raw power of lifelong friendship.
When: Forrest (Tom Hanks) stands over his beloved Jenny’s (Robin Wright Penn) grave and tearfully assures her that Forrest Jr. is one of the brightest kids in class.
Why: Because losing the love of your life to an incurable disease blows, and having a son who makes you proud rules! These are happy-sad tears.
When: Johnny Depp’s washed-up drug kingpin George Jung records a final, apologetic message to his dying dad (Ray Liotta) from prison, reminiscing about being a kid and working with Pops, who he thought was “the strongest man in the world.”
Why: Because the only thing harder than saying you’re sorry to your dad for all the mistakes you’ve made before he passes away is doing it on a tape recorder from prison.
Good Will Hunting
When: Matt Damon’s titular bro Will admits to being a victim of child abuse, and his furry shrink (Robin Williams) reveals that he’s a former victim himself. They hug. We cry.
Why: Because some men have a hard time letting their guards down and being mushy with one another. But, when it does happen, there are few things more powerful.
Field of Dreams
When: The quintessential movie about fathers and sons ends with the quintessential moment between a father and son: a game of catch.
Why: Because girls aren’t the only ones with daddy issues.
Saving Private Ryan
When: Before Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his last breath, he looks at Private Ryan (Matt Damon) and says “James...Earn this. Earn it.”
Why: Because Tom Hanks isn’t supposed to die, and we’re still praying we live in a world in which he never, ever will.
When: In the first 10 minutes, when an enchanting montage depicting the life and love of Carl and Ellie ends with her all-too-unbearable death.
Why: Because even normally sad things like dying are even sadder with big, cartoon eyes involved. Damn you, Pixar. Damn you.
When: The plucky Rudy (Sean Astin) finally achieves his unlikely lifelong dream of playing football for Notre Dame when he sacks the quarterback on the final play of the game.
Why: Because it’s a magical moment when after years of hard work and never giving up, a 5-foot-6 kid in yellow tights gives the middle finger to haters everywhere. Whoever said there’s no crying in football?
Dead Poets Society
When: The boys of Welton Academy stand on their desks in a stirring display of solidarity for their ousted teacher Keating (Robin Williams). Otherwise known as as the “O Captain, My Captain” part.
Why: Because one kid killed himself, another finally came out of his shell, and Robin Williams was, and always will be, the owner of the best “you just really moved me” look in Hollywood.
When: Their sled falls apart during a critical Olympic run, but instead of packing it in, the underdog Jamaican bobsled team hoists it on their shoulders and walk to the finish line.
Why: Four words: Best. slow. clap. ever.
The Sixth Sense
When: Cole (Haley Joel Osment) finally tells his mother (Toni Collette) that — all together now! — he sees dead people.
Why: Because Toni Collette’s pitch-perfect reaction to her son’s startling confession mixes shock, horror, relief, and understanding so expertly. It’s exactly how we hope our moms would react if (and when) we tell them that, we too, see dead people.
Requiem for a Dream
When: The fall of Sarah Goldfarb (she just wanted to be on television!) concludes with her two friends visiting their once-spirited neighbor only to be confronted with a despondent shell of her former self. It’s devastating stuff.
Why: Because she’s a mom. She’s not our mom, but she’s somebody’s mom — a drug-addicted Jared Leto, in this case — and moms are supposed to be invincible. When they’re not? We make sad faces.