You might think of kids films as happy-go-lucky, barrel-of-laughs, non-stop fun. However, you’d be wrong. Kids films are vicious. They’re brutal, precision-engineered to drag tears from your eyes whether you like it or not. Liam Neeson‘s upcoming film, A Monster Calls is no different, but it got us thinking about the other times seemingly friendly films left us sobbing into our popcorn.
Long before Groot, Vin Diesel was the titular Iron Giant, a robot from outer space who’s quickly befriended by a small boy. Inevitably the government gets involved, it all goes wrong, and it ends tragically. You’ll never be able to hear “Superman” again without bursting into spontaneous sobs.
The Lion King is especially cruel, because it doesn’t save its big tearjerker moment for the end — it drops it halfway through the film, when Simba’s dad is pushed to his tragic death. Sure, we eventually get to meet Timon and Pumbaa and it all gets pretty fun, but we never got over Mufasa’s death.
One of those kids films that no kid should ever watch, Watership Down is dark. Really dark. Can you think of any other movie that begins with the wholesale slaughter of a warren of rabbits, and then only manages to get darker and more depressing from there?
Bambi has been reducing small children to tears for 74 years now, and no one seems to be ready to do anything about it. Surely making kids watch Bambi’s mum get killed again and again is cruel and unusual punishment?
Up must have set some sort of tear-speed record: from 0 to ugly crying in 30 seconds flat. The rest of the film is a rollicking adventure with a talking dog and a silly bird, but you’ve got to make it past the most viciously depressing intro imaginable first. Good luck.
You think E.T.’s going to be fine, that you’re not going to cry. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and that weird little alien has some great powers. It’s all going well until you remember the whole point of the film: E.T. has to go home. That means he has to leave. And even though you know it’s coming, it still hurts.
7. Toy Story 3
I mean, really you could include every Toy Story on this list, but let’s go with 3 for two reasons. First, the moment when every character you know and love faces seemingly certain death in the trash incinerator and they all hold hands and it’s just too much. Second, the bittersweet ending as Andy passes them on — sure, they’ll be loved and played with again, but it’s just not the same, is it? Then you remember you’re crying over fictional, animated bits of plastic and you feel a bit silly.