Sure, there are Disney/Pixar films as a whole that cause you to ugly cry to the point of dry heaves and dehydration. But what were the moments that really broke the threshold from teary eyed to snort-sobs? That type of recollection requires many long hours of Disney movie bingeing. But fret not, I’ve rolled up my sleeves and done the dirty work;) Grab the tissues and the Ben and Jerry’s, it’s going to be an emotional Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!
⧫ The good Dinosaur
This belle of a film has two scenes that move me to full blown tears. The first being when Arlo doesn’t think Spot could understand losing his family, but is proven wrong when Spot buries dirt over the large stick figures previously representing his own parents. It is a good lesson to listen to the burden of others instead of being consumed by our own.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the sequence wherein Spot is integrated with fellow humans, thus must leave Arlo, is the piece de resistance. If you weren’t already in fully fledged blubbering, when Spot rushes back to hug Arlos nose and ‘howls’ goodbye, you undoubtedly will be.
⧫Wreck it Ralph
This scene is equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking. Initially, Vanellope gives Ralph the cookie necklace that, when flipped over, reads ‘you’re my hero’. Even more gut wrenching is that Ralph already knows that he has to destroy Vanellope’s race kart in order to attempt to save her, and her game. As the clip progresses, we are torn between the burden of Ralph to demolish his best friends pride and joy in front of her eyes and the helpless despondency of Vanellope as she dangles from a nearby branch. But the most harrowing part? When Vanellope mutters, ‘you really are a bad guy’.
This film is representative of a mother’s grief as much as it is the struggle of navigating in a world that doesn’t want you the way you are. The scene wherein dumbo is swaddled in Mrs. Jumbo’s trunk which dangles from her cage, and the filmmakers cut to the fellow performers and their offspring, cuddled and comforted, is the most woeful in all the film. Any mother will tell you that just to hold her baby, even if the moment is soon to be robbed, is well worth the pain. As Dumbo walks back to his tent, we see him filled with anguish to leave his mother, and we see Mrs. Jumbo filled with joy at the opportunity to have held her baby. There couldn’t be a more perfect track to accompany this sequence than ‘Baby Mine’.
It was challenging to choose just one scene in this movie. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved by a film in my entire life. But the scene where Coco and MIguel sing ‘Remember Me’, an ode to Mama Coco’s late father and MIguel’s late, great grand, Hector, is the clencher. In a way, the entire film was constructed around the moment Coco saves her father’s memory, allowing him a place on the offrenda once and for all. How we remember those who have affected us matters. Not only to us, but to those who may never get to know us in life.
The ability to weave a story in such a way that there is no other word for it’s conclusion than overwhelming is the stuff of Disney writers and imagineers. Inside Out was an adorable movie until the end when the empathy and sentiment was immense. At which point it became spectacular. More specifically, the scene where all of the emotions come together to help Riley realize that the unsavory moments in life are just as significant as the sunny days. You can’t have the rainbow without the rain, as it were.
⧫Toy Story 3
All three Toy Story films deserve a seat at this particular table, but as the third installment finalized the narrative (until June of this year, that is!) this scene is probably the most emotional. Andy is going off to college and the fact that he is leaving his beloved toys behind is not necessarily the tragedy. This is something that not only the viewer who has followed this journey for many years, knows. The toys themselves aren’t blindsided by this inevitability. Although there is a brief moment of ‘ will he or won’t he’ as Andy struggles to release Woody into Bonnie’s care. It’s the awareness, nostalgia and sentiment that Andy is flooded with as he looks into Woody’s eyes before their eventual parting. Most of us can relate to the grieving of the past and elation for the future that is the jump from adolescence to adulthood. Nothing narrates that quite so well as the end scene of Toy Story 3.
Disney doesn’t have to utilize human characters, or even mammals for that matter to pull at our heart strings. Finding Nemo is not only a look into the wretched reality that is ableism, but how it exists even within our own, well meaning family. The scene when Marlin rushes to his unconscious son and sees him in his fin as a tiny egg is relatable to any parent. But even more heartbreaking than that, is the tranquility as Marlin looks to Nemos tiny fin and realizes (or we can surmise as much) that the only thing holding back his brave and zealous son, was his own father.
Disney is unique for very many reasons, but their ability to make you feel all the feels is what truly sets them apart. In the prologue, I remarked in jest about putting in the tedious hours of terrific film watching that went into this post, but the truth of the matter is, this research was quite taxing! I cried SO MUCH. And while nothing makes me more sad than Dumbo, Disney/Pixar’s ability to constantly create storylines with as much joy as sorrow will never cease to amaze me.
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