A resolution for a happier life

imagesCAP6BGNUDecember 31, 2012 – We’re a mere few hours away from 2013 and everyone I know seems to be talking New Year’s resolutions.

I found this profound and wonderful message on www.happinessinyourlife.com. So, instead of making any resolutions for the coming year, I will give it my best effort to live by these words. If I succeed, the rest will fall into place.

“Think less, feel more – frown less, smile more – talk less, listen more – judge less, accept more – watch less, do more – complain less, appreciate more – and fear less, love more.”

Happy New Year!

24 in ’12


imagesDecember 28, 2012
– I’m pretty darned pleased with myself.

After adding up the number of movies I saw in the theater in 2012, I came to a solid 24. That’s a fine number for a major movie fan – averaging out to about one movie every two weeks – but it’s not over the top enough to call me crazy or obsessed.

I’ve rated them from worst to first, but that doesn’t necessary mean the movies that appear higher on the list are bad. It was an incredible year for movies, and I managed to avoid most of the rotten ones.

24. People Like Us – Touted as the feel good movie of the year, the trailer was intriguing enough to lure me to the theater over the summer, but I didn’t like this movie about family dysfunction and setting things straight after you die. Not even the acting skills of Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeiffer could save this silly film.

23. Dark Shadows – Campy fun with Johnny Depp in the lead role as Barnabas Collins, but as a fan from the gothic soap from the late 1960s, which had me rushing home from elementary school to watch, it was a little disappointing and didn’t live up to the Tim Burton trademark.

22. Not Fade Away – I saw this movie as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival in October, and it was good. It’s in theaters now, and I’ll admit the trailer wouldn’t have pulled me in on its own. David Chase followed his stint as creator and writer of “The Sopranos” with this film about guys in a North Jersey neighborhood forming a band in the 1960s.

21. The Guilt Trip – Barbara Streisand Seth Rogen are funny as mother and son in this road trip comedy, and as a mother of a grown son I thought most of the humor was spot on. However, “The Guilt Trip” will most likely appeal to older audiences though, and I can attest to being the youngest in the theater when I saw it.

20. Anna Karenina – Classic literature usually makes for interesting film adaptations. This version of Tolstoy’s sad story of an aristocrat wife (Keira Knightly) from an arranged marriage to an affluent military officer (Jude Law) and her fall into adultery, however, was beautifully filmed, but it didn’t hold my attention the way the way the 1948 version with Vivian Leigh did.

19. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – Unlike other movies dealing with asteroids, such as “Deep Impact” or “Armageddon”, this film starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightly deals with the human emotions and the regular people, instead of the super heroes who save the world from doom. Most critics panned it, but I thought it was kind of interesting.

18. Hope Springs – This odd romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell dealt with a couple married for 30 something years trying to recapture the magic. It was charming and had some funny moments, but like “The Guilt Trip”, it appealed to an older audience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

17. Ruby Sparks – “Ruby Sparks” immediately grabbed my attention because I’m always drawn to stories about writers. It also had an interesting twist that I haven’t seen since the days of Charlie Kaufman’s “Adaptation”. Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan star in this quirky comedy about a writer who creates a character and she becomes part of his “real” life.

16. The Bourne Legacy – Jeremy Renner stars as a new character in the Bourne series, but out Jason Bourne. Still, It was an adventurous ride for the two hours and fifteen minutes it played out on screen. It didn’t have the same impact as the previous films, but I was never bored.

15. To Rome with Love – Here’s another one that critics didn’t like much, but I thought was enjoyable. Woody Allen’s “To Rome with Love” tells four stories, all sprinkled with love and humor. I love that Allen allowed each imaginative story to breath on its own, and didn’t intertwine them neatly together at the end of the movie.

14. Hitchcock – Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren were superb in this bio movie about Mr. & Mrs. Hitchcock, and the making of “Psycho”. It was interesting to learn the behind the scenes story of Hitchcock’s most popular film.

13. The Master – This odd little number from the mind of Paul Thomas Anderson and based on Scientology is the epitome of a character driven story. It also shined a light on the fantastic acting skills of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.

12. This is Forty – Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann head a very funny cast in this reverse coming of age comedy that is billed as the “sort of” sequel to Apatow’s 2007 “Knocked Up”. Funny stuff, but it may be a bit too crude to appeal to a wide audience.

11. Jeff Who Lives at Home – I thoroughly enjoyed this film about a jobless, 30-year-old stoner, who is obsessed with the movie “Signs” and lives in his mother’s basement. Jason Segal and Ed Helms star as brothers, with Susan Sarandon as their mother.

10. Hyde Park on Hudson – Bill Murray shines and FDR in this dramedy about a weekend spent at the President’s family home in upstate New York during the King and Queen of England’s only visit to America. Too bad for him there are so many wonderful actors that came through this year. It might cost him an Oscar nomination, but he truly deserves it.

9. Argo – Even though we all know how this one ended, it was a great thrill ride just the same. Ben Affleck’s Argo is an on the edge of your seat drama based on the true story of the Iran Embassy crisis during the late 1970s.

8. Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson’s films are always a crazy trip. Not only did the talented writer/director give us one of the most original stories of the year, it also had an amazing soundtrack. It’s another Bill Murray performance gem.

7. Bernie – It may be unorthodox to call a movie about a real life murder delightful and charming, but there is no other way to describe this film that tells the story of Bernie Tiede, who was sentenced to life in prison after admitting he murdered Marjorie Nugent, a wealthy widow, played on screen by Jack Black and Shirley McLaine.

6. Your Sister’s Sister – This little Indy film proves that you don’t need a big budget to make a compelling movie. Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass star in this story about a man who is still struggling with his brother’s recent death. It’s touching and sweet and certainly not your typical romcom.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – A well-written story with Emma Watson and Ezra Miller in the lead roles, along with a of wonderful young actors. It actually surprised me, and I witnessed a heartfelt and often funny coming of age story, and one with a main character that can hold a candle to Holden Caulfield.

4. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – “Salmon Fishing in Yemen” is a rare find. The refreshingly witty film that tells the story of a billionaire sheik that wants to bring Salmon fishing to Yemen. The British romcom stars Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor.

3. Lincoln – Perhaps one of the most talked about movies of the year, “Lincoln” stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field, as the President and Mrs. Lincoln, along a huge supporting cast. The Civil War is entering its fourth year, the nation is weary, and Lincoln is trying to pass the 13th Amendment that will abolish slavery.

2. Safety Not Guaranteed – Here’s another Indy film that I absolutely loved because of its originality. I’ve never been a sci-fi fan, and pretty much stay away from movies that feature time travel because it’s been done to the extreme. Still, “Safety Not Guaranteed” combines both sci-fi and time travel elements, but with a major dose of quirky, and that’s what won me over.

1. Silver Linings Playbook – By far my favorite movie of the year, this film starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro is wrought with serious undertones, such as family dysfunction, mental illness and the harsh reality of life changing traumatic events. Yet, “Silver Linings Playbook” is thoroughly charming, funny and honest, and it has you rooting for its troubled and wounded characters from start to finish.

Sometimes the past is worth repeating

images (1)December 26, 2012 Here’s a post from December 26, 2010 that bears repeating because it still holds true … Happy Holidays!

The Day After

Few things puzzle me more than folks rushing to the mall the day after Christmas, whether it’s to return gifts or find the best bargains. Still, it is an incredibly popular thing to do on December 26. For me, shopping the last thing on my mind, and my wallet appreciates that.

Perhaps shopping for some is a way to avoid the post holiday blues. It’s common to feel letdown when Christmas is over. You put so much time and preparation into Christmas, and the day passes much too quickly. In fact, psychologist say the more you prepare and the more exciting the holiday is for you, the more you may feel letdown the day after. Our brains need to establish equilibrium, and the higher we are, the lower we must fall to settle back into that middle space.

The letdown may also be why many countries around the world celebrate Boxing Day, a day after Christmas tradition that started in England during the Victorian era when the wealthy would box up gifts they didn’t need and bring them to the poor. What a great thought. As a child, my mom and dad asked us to pick one of our gifts to give to baby Jesus. On Christmas night, we had to place that gift back under the tree and it was gone the next morning. I found out when I was older that those gifts actually went to less fortunate kids.

I enjoy the day after Christmas because it’s when my entire family gets together. With some of us living in different states and others with obligations elsewhere, it’s typically the only day of the year when all 16 immediate family members are in the same room.

Oddly, my post holiday blues start on January 1, the day I should embrace the new start that lies ahead. I’m usually a glass half full kind of person, but there’s something a little sad about New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The holidays are officially over and the long winter sets in.

This year I am determined to focus on the positive and feel excited for what the new year has in store, so I will treat New Year’s Day with the respect it deserves. It’s won’t just be the day the decorations come down.

Movie review: This is Forty

MV5BNzQxMDQ1NjA4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTE5MjQ3OA@@._V1._SY317_December 24, 2012 – I can’t remember a movie trailer that made me laugh or anticipate seeing it as much as Judd Apatow’s “This is Forty”.

Perhaps that’s because I am of the age where I can relate. There’s no avoiding growing older, so you may as well laugh, right?

Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann head a very funny cast in this reverse coming of age comedy that is billed as the “sort of” sequel to Apatow’s 2007 “Knocked Up”. This time, we catch up with the supporting characters, Pete and Debbie and their two children, a family who are in the throes of a midlife crisis because the parents are about to turn – you guessed it – 40.

At first there didn’t seem like much of a story unfolding, but rather little slices of a day in the life played for laughs. It could have been called “This is Life”. Midway through, I recognized an actual story forming, and that’s when it took on a more serious tone. This family is dealing with an overly hormonal teenage daughter that is making life pretty miserable for everyone, a failing business, mooching and absentee parents and employee embezzlement all in one week. It’s definitely not a fun day at the beach, but considering their privileged existence in an upper class California neighborhood, it’s not the end of the world either.

Rudd is perfectly cast in the role of an overwhelmed and often frustrated husband and father with a slick sense of humor, his own share of secrets and a heart of gold. He has some of the movie’s best comic moments, especially when he’s poking fun at the television show “Friends”, which he was a part of in its last season. But it’s also the most dramatic performance I’ve ever witnessed from him. There is something so appealing about Rudd, who still possesses the boyish charm he had in 1995s “Clueless”, yet he’s quite believable as the adult father of a teenager.

Mann, who stars in all of Apatow’s films and is his real life wife, also lives up to her role as a mother who’s afraid she’s not doing the best for her children, and as a wife who is worried about losing the magic with her husband. I haven’t enjoyed her performances in other movies she’s been in because I find her characters too  abrasive and condescending. She carries less of those traits as Debbie, but they are still there. Somehow it’s more acceptable in this role. Mann is all over the place with her emotions, which seems true to life for many of us that age, but there is also a sweetness about her character that comes through in the end.

The cameo appearances in this movie are plenty; Jason Segel, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Melissa McCarthy, Megan Fox, and several others all have small and memorable roles. And let’s not forget several musicians and NHL players that are fun to spot.

So, did the trailer live up to its hype? Not entirely. I did laugh out loud a few times and snicker several more, but I was disappointed I didn’t laugh more; there were far too many serious moments for that. There were also too many crude moments played for comedy, like the scenes with Melissa McCarthy, who I normally find hilarious, but this time it didn’t work for me.  Still, it is a relatively enjoyable way to spend two hours and 14 minutes, which may seem long for a comedy.

This one isn’t winning any awards, folks, but you may recognize yourself in some of the characters and get a laugh or two. And who doesn’t need that? Just remember this is a movie with mature themes, and leave the kids at home.

Visions of hotcakes danced in our heads

thCAKY7EHODecember 21, 2012 – When I think of my grandfather – known lovingly as Pop Pop throughout our large extended family – lots of warm and comforting memories come to mind.

Most often, he’s standing in front of a microphone at a family party singing a favorite song from the roaring twenties that begs, “Don’t put a tax on the beautiful girls, I won’t last a day without love…”

Or, he’s sitting at our dining room table playing Scrabble with my parents after one of our Thursday night dinners.

I also see him in the kitchen preparing his famous hotcakes.

Pop Pop made hotcakes every Sunday for his kids before church. As he grew older, he’d make them for us during our summer vacation at the beach because he usually came with us. He’d love to get up early, walk to the grocery store and buy what he needed to whip up a fresh batch and the kitchen magic would begin. Then we’d wake to the sound of him whistling or singing in the kitchen with the griddle sizzling.

“Who wants hotcakes?” he’d ask as soon as he saw our sleepy faces.

We all did. We all loved them. They were one of the things we looked forward to while on vacation. And we loved them the next day, too, and maybe even the day after that. By day four, we’d have rather eaten a simple bowl of corn flakes or a Pop Tart, but we never had the heart to say so, and we ate them anyway. It was a small price to pay to please a man who brought so much joy into our lives.

The most special hotcakes were the ones he made us on Christmas mornings when I was really young. We’d eat them like we never had them before.

Pop Pop passed away in 1977, and I still think of him and his hotcakes every year. Gone but not forgotten, poured but never duplicated, Pop Pop’s hotcakes were the centerpiece of our Christmas morning and our summer vacations for years.

This one’s for you, Pop Pop!

Tssss
Hear the sizzle on the griddle
As you drop that batter
In the pat of hot butter
Round and round
Piping hot
Like as not
What you got is hotcakes
Hubba hubba hubba
Puffin’ up fluffy and sweet
Uh now wait
Uh now flip it!

– Hotcakes by Carly Simon

A Christmas Carol top five

imagesCARJTF4WDecember 19, 2012 – ‘Tis the season to celebrate one of the most popular holiday classics of all time – Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

The clever story about second chances has been turned into countless films and stage productions, and is also celebrating an anniversary; it first went on sale 169 years ago today in 1843.

Here is a look at my picks for the top five film versions of this wonderful story. While most film critics claim that the best version is the 1951 theatrical release starring Alastair Sim, it didn’t make my top five. Sorry about that, Mr. Sim. If I expanded it to 10, you would have had a place for sure.

5. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) – This animated Disney film is splendidly charming, and brings back plenty of Christmas memories for me since I used to watch it with my son each holiday season. It also features one of my favorite movie Christmas songs ever, “Oh What a Merry Christmas Day”. This kid friendly version has Scrooge McDuck in the title character of Ebenezer Scrooge, and other Disney favorites, such as Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit, Goofy as Marley, and Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past. This version certainly warms the heart like no other, and better yet, you can watch it in about 45 minutes.

4. The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992) – Here’s another version I used to watch every year when my son was younger. Like “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”, this rendition offers plenty of kid friendly entertainment, but with the comic twist that only the Muppets can provide. Michael Caine, the only human in the cast, stars as Scrooge, while Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as a very aggressive and hilarious Mrs. Cratchit, and Fozzi Bear as Old Fozziwig, round out the cast and make for a lively movie experience.

3. Ebbie (1995) – A contemporary made for TV version provides a different twist on the story, casting females in the roles of Ebbie Scrooge (soap opera queen Susan Lucci) and Roberta Cratchit (Wendy Crewson. Those familiar with Lucci’s days on “All My Children” know she has the teeth to pull off the nasty Scrooge, but when it comes to the sweet, young Ebbie, Lucci seems a little out-of-place in the role. Still, it was the first contemporary version I’d seen with a female so it has a place on my list. Since then, it’s been done a few times, one in 2000 with Vanessa Williams in “A Diva’s Christmas Carol”, but none were as surprising or as good as “Ebbie”.

2. Scrooged (1988) – Director Richard Donner’s humorous take on the classic story casts Bill Murray in the lead role as a miserly television executive who is so cruel to his employees, he makes them work on Christmas Eve. Bobcat Goldthwait, David Johansen, Carol Kane also lend their talents to this uproarious comedy. Just like “Elf”, “A Christmas Story” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, this should become a must see in every household each holiday season.

1. Scrooge (1970) – The musical version of “A Christmas Carol” simply called “Scrooge” is my absolute favorite rendition. The film stars Albert Finney as the miser, and a plethora of other English actors I’m not familiar with, but who certainly add class and charm to their roles. The score is wonderful and features 11 catchy songs that I’ll admit I know by heart. When released in 1970, the movie wasn’t a hit with many critics (what do they know?) but Finney did win the Golden Globe for Best Actor in 1971 for the role.

Movie review: Hitchcock

hitchcockDecember 19, 2012 – There’s a lot to be said about separating the artist as a person from his or her work. I sometimes prefer enjoying the art for what it is, and knowing next to nothing about the actual human being who created it. Too often, it can ruin the enjoyment if you know too much.

Back in October, when I discovered that two movies were made about the life of “The Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, I looked forward to learning more about the genius filmmaker, despite what had been speculated about him and his obsession with his leading ladies known as “Hitchcock’s Blondes”. Craziness aside, he was one of the greatest directors of all time, and I’m a huge fan.

“The Girl” premiered in October on HBO starring Toby Jones and Sienna Miller as Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren, and it focused on their time filming “The Birds”. This version of Hitchcock’s story did nothing for me; I didn’t enjoy it, and it honestly gave me the creeps. Not that it surprised me, but it portrayed him as an off-balanced pervert.

Still, curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to see the theatrical version of “Hitchcock” because of the acting talents of  Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. Directed by Sacha Gervasi and based on Stephen Rebello’s book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”, it centers on the marriage of Hitchcock (Hopkins) and Alma Reville (Mirren) during the filming of the movie. It also stars Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh and Toni Colette as his office assistant, Peggy Robertson. It’s easy to see that women had a major impact on Hitchcock, his movies and his choices.

After both movies, I’m still a huge fan of his body of work, although as a human being, Hitchcock may be questionable. Hopkins, an actor I adore, did a marvelous job making me cringe. He is well cast and does a fine job creating the illusion of being the actual director. Hopkins appearance isn’t identical, and perhaps the makeup crew tried a bit too hard to make it look like it was, but Hopkins sounded very much like the director and did an excellent job with his mannerisms. Mirren is equally impressive in her role, and as usual, steals most of the scenes she is in. If portrayed honestly, Alma, Hitchcock’s wife, was cunning enough to get what she wanted, yet she supported him and his crazy ideas. She was more than able to hold her own against the great and powerful Master of Suspense, and he was putty in her hands.

Unlike “The Girl”, which portrayed an awful relationship between Hitch and Hedren, “Hitchcock” presented a wonderful relationship with the director and Janet Leigh. Or at least that she knew how to handle him. But what I liked most about it is that it focused more on behind the scenes business of making movies, and it avoided too much of the quirky personality stuff that made “The Girl” too dark for me. And the personality traits that they did take on had a fun, campy quality to it. Some critics have pointed out that it’s played too cute and comfortable, but that’s OK by me.

It was also interesting to learn the back-story of Psycho, how it was based on a true story, and how the studios didn’t want anything to do with before they shot it, and even after they saw it. But the clever Hitchcock was a marketing genius as well, and knew how to give an audience what it wanted. “Psycho” went on to become his most popular work.

The story began and ended splendidly, with Hitchcock’s familiar “Good evening” monologue, just like he did with his television series and with the same memorable music in the background. That added another element of fun, and I knew instantly it would be much more enjoyable than the HBO film, and that I would probably like it. And I did. It was far from one of my favorite movies of the year; the competition is especially steep in 2012, but it was highly entertaining just the same.

Interestingly, Toby Jones was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his Hitchcock portrayal, along with Sienna Miller, but Hopkins was snubbed. And he was a  better Hitch than Jones in almost every way. Mirren, however, did capture a nomination as best actress. The Golden Globe is thought to be a precursor for the Academy Awards, so with the steep competition, we probably won’t see Hopkins nominated for an Oscar, either. But in Hitchcock’s colorful and crazy world, stranger things have happened.

Five movie scenes that always make me laugh

blonde-girl-is-laughing-coloring-pageDecember 14, 2012 – What types of movies make us laugh?

The same formula doesn’t work for everyone; comedy is very personal. “Dumb and Dumber”, for instance, makes my son laugh till his stomach hurts, but there is something about it (mainly Jim Carrey) that I find incredibly annoying.

Here’s a look at the top five movies that make me laugh like no other. It’s also a follow-up piece and completes an interesting top ten that began on Wednesday, with the five movies that always make me cry. They go nicely together, don’t you think?

5. Young Frankenstein (1974) – The incredibly silly monster spoof from Mel Brooks has an all-star cast with some of comedy’s best, including Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman and Peter Boyle. The movie is chock full of humor from start to finish, but my favorite scene is near the end and involves a very important confession from Leachman’s character Frau Blucher.

4. The Jerk (1979) – Steve Martin in his heyday starred in this funny movie. He also wrote the screenplay, which had him playing the adopted white son of African-American sharecroppers, who grows to adulthood unaware that he was adopted. Like “Young Frankenstein”, “The Jerk” has too many hilarious moments to count – “I’m picking out a thermos for you” and “I don’t need anything but this, and maybe this” come to mind – but my absolute favorite is when Martin’s character is working in a gas station and comes to a startling conclusion.

3. Airplane/The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1980 & 1988) – These slapstick comedies count as one on my list because they share the same literal humor, they were created by the same writers/producers, and both star the hilarious Leslie Nielsen. Airplane’s finest moment probably was the “You can tell me I’m a doctor” conversation with Nielsen and Peter Graves, while The Naked Gun’s moment came when Frank Drebin (Nielsen) impersonated an umpire at a baseball game in an effort to save the Queen of England, but was mistaken for someone else.

2. Fletch (1985) – Yes, Chevy Chase was once funny. Hilarious even. And in late 70s and early 80s, after being the first lured away from “Saturday Night Live” to pursue a movie career, he made a string of excellent comedies. In “Fletch”, Chase starred as undercover reporter Irwin Fletcher, who’d impersonate a cast of characters for his various assignments. Here’s a scene where he’s impersonating a doctor, and actually has to perform like one.

1. So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993) – Surprised? This crazy Mike Meyers ditty may be my favorite comedy ever. How did I come to that conclusion? It’s purely scientific; it’s the one movie I can watch over and over, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, each time it is on. Mike Meyers is at his humorous best in his dual role as father and son, but so are the supporting players, Anthony LaPaglia, Alan Arkin, Nancy Travis, Amanda Plummer, and the surprising list of cameos by stand-up comedians. Here’s a scene were Charlie (Meyers) and Tony (LaPaglia) visit Alcatraz, and run into a very funny tour guide.

Selecting a top five in this category was more difficult than I anticipated. So I don’t leave out those that just missed by a smidgeon, here are five honorable mentions: I came very close to selecting scenes from “Animal House”, “Groundhog Day”, “The Pink Panther”, “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters”.

Five movie scenes that always make me cry

tumblr_lxiu4yzmme1r9mqbwo1_500-1December 12, 2012 – Joni Mitchell once sang that “laughing and crying is the same release.” That’s probably why I enjoy a good tear jerker as much as a knee-slapping comedy.

Here are my picks for five of the saddest movie scenes ever.

5. Steel Magnolias (1989) – This story of southern women who meet in the local beauty shop for a good gossip has its share of laughs and tears. The heaviest tear-inducing drama occurs in the cemetery, after M’Lynn (Sally Field) buries her daughter Shelby (Julia Roberts). Field’s character breaks down and goes off on a rampage about the incredibly painful loss, bringing buckets of tears to my eyes. Thankfully, a surprising bit of comedy at the end of the scene had me laughing again.

4. Brian’s Song (1970) – The made for TV movie about real life pro footballers Brian Piccalo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) is a must see for all tear jerker fans. The scene in the locker room where Williams’ addresses his fellow teammates about Piccolo’s cancer has him breaking down, and I soon follow. At the end of the movie, his speech after accepting the George S. Halas Award for Courage in Piccalo’s honor had me reaching for the tissues again.

3. Field of Dreams (1989) – The best of the three Kevin Costner’s baseball movies gets me choked up every time. The famous ending finds Ray (Costner) making peace with his long-dead father and uttering the words, “Hey, Dad? Wanna have a catch?” Just try not to cry at that one. It’s impossible. Even men admit to shedding a tear during this emotional scene.

2. Terms of Endearment (1983) – A dying mother saying farewell to her young sons – it doesn’t get any sadder than that. When Debra Winger’s plays this out in the movie, it is so incredibly gut wrenching. Adding to the drama are the acting skills of Huckleberry Fox, who plays her youngest son. How anyone can keep from bawling their eyes out when they see his little face covered in tears is beyond me.

1. Imitation of Life (1959) – The story of two single mothers (one black and one white played by Juanita Moore and Lana Turner) raising their daughters (one white, and the other appears white and pretends that she is played by Sandra Dee and Susan Kohner) is drama at its finest. Not only is the story politically poignant and ahead of its time considering it was based on a novel from the 1920s, but it has several emotional scenes that nearly kill me every time I watch. Two of the more serious crying scenes occur when the teenaged daughter leaves home after she shuns her mother and the family’s black roots, and gets a job in the entertainment industry as a white chorus girl. Realizing she is sick her mother tracks her down and asks that she be allowed to hold her just “once more…like you were still my baby”. Later, at her funeral the daughter returns wracked by guilt and sobs uncontrollably at her mother’s casket. This is hard core crying with actual shoulder action involved!

On Friday, we’ll take a look at the happier side of this list — my selection for the five most hilarious scenes in movies.