The movie: You is kind. You is smart. You is important.
The scene: When teenage Emma Stone is sad because all the boys think she’s ugly and her mama hates her hair, Constantine shows up to remind her that we all make our own kind of beautiful.
How it went down: Okay, so I like really love old people. They’re so wise and stuff, and they look at you with those eyes filled with knowing. So every time I watch that scene where Skeeter remembers just how much Constantine meant to her, I kind of lose it. I can’t even blame it on the mood lighting of the movie theater, because even when The Help pops up on TBS, there I am with a bucket of brownies, suppressing my sobs.
Growing up is hard for all of the awkward little dreamers, but it’s women like Constantine that make the longing for the future bearable by making us feel the presence of our own inner beauty. “Your mama didn’t pick her life; it pick her. But you… you’re gonna do something big with yours.”
’13 Going on 30′
The movie: Jennifer Garner plays a 13-year-old who makes a wish and wakes up in the future in her 30-year-old body. Marc Ruffalo co-stars as Marc Ruffalo.
The scene: Jennifer Garner rushes to her best friend’s wedding to profess her love, and then IN A SHOCKING ROM-COM TWIST… he marries his fiancee anyway.
How it went down: My mother, my seven-year old sister (who for the sake of this anecdote we’ll call “Goji,”) and I were enjoying a ladies night in with what was sure to be a delightful Jennifer Garner rom-com. It was cute. It was charming. It had sweet messages about self-empowerment, and kindness, and internal beauty.
So then when Matty turns down his bff Jenna to marry that nameless skank of a fiancee,* it comes off as kind of a shock. Like, where was the fairytale ending we were promised? And hey Marc Ruffalo, why are you making my homegirl Jenny stand there like a loser awkwardly clutching her Barbie Dream House?
And Jennifer Garner is crying, so obviously my eyes are also starting to water because when she cries she looks like a homeless kitten, and I am not a monster. And I was like wow, this movie is really driving home that whole ‘Be careful what you wish’ for lesson, because unless they’re going to make Jenna a 13 year-old mistress, Matty is so over. And then from the corner armchair, we hear a sob erupt. We look over and Gogi is sitting there, clutching her knees to her chest, fingers in her mouth, stifling cries.
SHE IS HEARTBROKEN. Like, she just got left at the altar for Jennifer Garner-level heartbroken. The pillow she’s clinging to for dear life is covered in tears and saliva and probably snot, and my mother rushes over and Gogi kind of just breaks down into her lap, like even the struggle to hold her head up is too much for her just now. “What’s the matter?!” my mother asks, genuinely concerned that her seven-year old’s appendix has burst and/or something equally traumatic has happened. But no. It’s just that Jennifer Garner’s loneliness is too much for little Gogi to bear.
The movie kept running and as it turned out, 13 Going on 30 is not as deep as I had suspected because Jennifer Garner ends up going back to the eighties and buying a big house with Matty (since she’s a time-traveler, she knew to invest in Microsoft.) “Look! Look!,” my mother implores to a sobbing Gogi, “The Barbie house is magic!” Gogi is lost to us though, in a wave of sorrow and tears. She’s seven years-old and Marc Ruffalo is her first heartbreak.
*She’s actually probably lovely. We have nothing to really go off of except that we are obviously on Team Jenna so #sisterhood.
‘Toy Story 3’
The movie: Andy gets ready for college and Woody and the gang get sent to an evil preschool with evil teddy bears.
The scene: Andy plays with his toys for the last time and our childhood is over.
How it went down: For people around my age, growing up with Toy Story has been kind of a cool experience. We were kids when the first movie came out, and by the time the third one was released, we were in that awkward childhood meets adulthood limbo state that Andy also found himself in as he prepared to go off to college. So when Andy finally makes the decision to give up his toys to the next generation of imaginative dreamers, it’s kind of this beautiful, bittersweet moment. It’s about learning to let go so you can move on, and knowing when it’s time to let others move on too.
I went to go see Toy Story 3 in theaters with my thirteen year-old sister, and when it got to the end, I found myself dabbing at my eyes with tissues. Gogi saw this and turned to me bewildered, “Why are you crying?” she snapped, “It’s just a cartoon.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Are you seriously sitting here judging me, Gogi? I just told everyone the story about how you lost your shiz during a Jennifer Garner rom-com. Let me have my polite, ladylike cry.
‘Deathly Hallows Part 1’
The movie: This is the film where the trio goes camping. It contains my favorite scene in the entire film series: Harry and Hermione awkwardly dancing in the tent. It is my favorite scene because since it wasn’t in the books, it couldn’t be bastardized by the movies.
The scene: Spoiler alert: Dobby died.
How is went down: I’m going to tell this story at the risk of sounding like a soulless monster who’s made one too many horcruxes. I did not cry when Dobby died. I did not cry, because I was too busy hating the 18-year-old woman sitting next to me. Let me start from the beginning…
It was November 2010, and like every other millennial alive, my friends and I had made strict plans to attend the midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows, part 1. One of these friends, who for the sake of this anecdote we’ll call “Banana,” had struck up a tepid friendship with a young freshman, who for the sake of this anecdote we’ll refer to as “Little Grape.” Banana did not know Little Grape very well, but after a short conversation in which Little Grape lamented the fact that she did not have any friends with whom to attend the premiere with, Banana promptly took pity on the fellow Potterhead, and invited her to come along with us.
Of course, almost as soon as the movie started running, the cries in the sold-out theater stuffed with sleep-deprived college students were audible. Hedwig died, and Banana was already pulling out the tissues. Bad stuff happens. Ronald Weasley looks sexy. Harry and Hermione almost make out. More bad stuff happens. Ronald Weasley still looks sexy. Harry and Hermione actually do make out. Even more bad stuff happens. Dobby dies. There are some audible sobs in the corner.
BUT THEN, sitting right next to us, Little Grape just LETS IT GO. I mean this girl starts SCREAMING. It’s like she’s watching a dingo make off with her baby right in front of her. And she just won’t stop. Like, DanRad is talking to Hermione Granger about their plan for DH Part 2, and she’s there shaking and sobbing and SCREAMING like a maniacal banshee.
There are appropriate ways to cry in a movie theater; this was not it. Little Grape is LOSING IT, and pretty soon, row by row, people’s heads are turning. The entire movie theater is shooting us a collective zombie death glare. The sorority girls a few rows up look at us and shake their heads in disgust. Fuming, I reach across Banana and angry-whisper to Little Grape, “Be QUIET.” But Little Grape is in a zone of her own. She doesn’t take heed. Next to me, our other friend Watermelon more aggressively insists, “You’re ruining everything!” It doesn’t matter. Little Grape finally has the university’s attention. She knows this is her time to shine. In the back row, a guy yells, “SHUT UP!” and throws popcorn in our direction. The credits roll. The house lights go up. Little Grape grabs a handful of tissues and stands up, smiling.