Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I know how to make grown men cry

Sit them down in front of a dog movie where the dog dies.

Old Yeller. My Dog Skip. Year of the Dog. Any one will do.

I know this because I watched Marley & Me with my roommates last night. Both are male. Both grew up with dogs. And both were teary by the end of the movie.

I take that back. One of them -- the one who rarely gets emotional about anything -- was openly crying. He declared it the "worst dog movie ever" because the death scene at the end was so protracted. He said he hadn't cried that way since Homeward Bound.

This unusual scene reinforced what my father has said for years: "Wanna see me cry? Make me watch a dog movie. Horror film, war movies, romantic tragedies ... not a drop. But a dog movie? I'm done."

Note: This is the man who got upset at the My Dog Skip trailer and refused to watch it on a cross-country flight because he knew he'd be upset in front of other passengers.

So men, I ask you ... what is it about the man-and-dog narrative that socks you in the tear ducts? Is it any more or less evocative than buddy movies or sports films, and why?

And in return, I promise to answer any lingering questions you have about women's movie-watching habits. Let the explanations begin!

Photo by superrune


  1. Boys love their dogs. The first one that got me was Old Yeller and I read "Where The Red Fern Grows" very young in life. I cried as a boy when Snoopy wouldn't go home in "Snoopy Come Home."

    I wish I could tell you why we men have such connection to dogs, but I think it may be that dogs, more than any other pet, tend to accompany men and boys in the outdoor activities we like to do. The dog becomes our best friends - the ones that will always give us the time and attention when we come home after a bad day at work or after a bad breakup. There's nothing the dog likes more than seeing us. None of the other situations you mention, nor other standard pets, have that same type of connection.

  2. Anonymous10:38 PM

    Want to know how to make Julia cry? Have her watch "Jaws".

  3. Julia,
    I would echo Brian's thoughts about the bond between a boy and his dog. I could not stand to get the body my dog of 12 years ready for pickup by the Humane Society after she died. It was 20!
    Yet, after adopting our cat last year, I am able to watch Animal Cops without breaking down when some die or have to be put down.