I think I have figured out why I enjoy action-adventure movies. I can sit down to World War Z and not experience overwhelming emotion. I don’t get emotional watching the good guy kill zombies.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for anything produced by Pixar, Disney or Sherwood Pictures. Any type of movie that is designed to induce deep emotion gets me. The other day the family was in the car on the way to an event, and we were all discussing our favorite animated movies. Everyone knows I love “The Incredibles”, and in my mind it stands above anything else over the last twenty years. Everyone wanted to know my second favorite animated movie so I said, “Tangled.” They wanted to know my favorite part, (this was all a setup) and I attempted to describe the scene where Rapunzel released her lantern from a boat in the middle of the film. As far as I was concerned, the movie could have ended right there, it was such a powerful scene. Everyone in the car started laughing because I could hardly describe that part of the film without getting teary eyed. Julie patted me on the knee and said, “Aw, poor James.”
I used to get embarrassed when I would watch a movie and get all misty eyed. I don’t anymore. It’s become such a part of who I am now. It’s what makes James who he is. It’s one of my unique identifiers. My kids and friends can tease me all they want. I’m not ashamed, and I know they only do it because they love me anyway.
There is almost a formula to get me emotional in a movie. Movies like October Baby, Annie and Despicable Me choke me up because of the heavy adoption themes. I start crying every time I see that orphanage with all those cute little girls who all dream every day of having a family of their own. Margo, Agnes and Edith all three completely melt Gru’s heart in Despicable Me. On the outside he is this big scary character but on the inside he’s still a mama’s boy, and these three girls help him find that in himself. As I wrote HERE, October Baby stirred up a lifetime of emotion in me because of the adoption and pro-life themes.
Rapunzel is such a dreamer, and when she gets to release a lantern with the rest of the town I’m overcome by the emotion she must be feeling to have such a big dream realized. I understand the wonder she is experiencing. I have four daughters, and they are all dreamers in their own unique ways. The Incredibles is my favorite, and I get the least emotional when I watch it. Still, I think what I love the most is Bob Parr’s journey. He is completely unfulfilled in his insurance job. He thinks it is because he no longer spends his life being a famous super hero. He discovers something completely different. He discovers that the biggest adventure he will ever embark on will be connecting to his wife and kids. By the end of the film he no longer wants to be a solo super hero. He realizes that without his family the acclamation of the world means nothing. He realizes that the greatest thing a man can do is become a hero in the eyes of his own family. I can identify with that because I have come to that conclusion in my own life as well.
I’m not sure I have ever told anyone what I am about to say right here so listen up. There is a deeper reason I experience such emotion when watching movies with strong family themes. Like many men out there, I have a lot of repressed emotions. It’s a requirement of the position I guess. We have to push through all kinds of tough situations if we are going to be the provider and leader we want to be. We have to go to work even though we had a fight with our teenager the night before. We have to go to work the day after we bury our favorite aunt. We have to take a paycheck that is woefully inadequate, deposit it into the bank and show up Monday morning and act like everything is okay.
I feel like crying every day of my life but I can’t, so whenever I’m sitting at home, or in a theater, and I’m watching a movie designed to elicit family related emotion I bite hook, line and sinker. I do so not only because I am connecting with what I am watching. I do so because it’s the only way I can emotionally survive.