LOS ANGELES (AP) —
It's my birthday this week. No need to concern yourselves with how old I am.
But since it's my party, I'll cry if I want to. Here are five movies that consistently reduce me to a blubbering little girl:
— "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982): If you follow Five Most each week, you know of my nostalgic love of "E.T." I've seen it a million times and I know what's going to happen every time. I know E.T. is going to live, and that the little guy is going to phone home, and that his spaceship is going to swoop down in the middle of suburban Southern California to pick him up and take him back to his planet where he belongs. Doesn't matter. Those curious blue eyes of his, and the tenderness of the friendship between E.T. and Elliott, never fail to move me to tears. And it's impossible not to feel overwhelmed by that big, iconic John Williams score. Yes, I realize I am a total dork. Moving on ...
— "Nights of Cabiria" (1957): A personal choice, since my mom loved Federico Fellini, and this was her favorite of all his films. But what gets me every time is that famous last shot. Fellini's wife and muse, Giulietta Masina, is irresistible as Cabiria, the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold. She's funny and feisty but eternally optimistic that she'll find her true love on the streets of Rome. She finally thinks she's found "the one," only to discover that he's trying to take advantage of her. Heartbroken, she returns to those same streets and gets caught up in a parade. Then she looks into the camera and smiles through tears as if to let us know she'll be all right, and the Nino Rota score swells, and it's just a perfect moment.
— "Lassie Come Home" (1943): We had a collie named Bingo when I was growing up, so anything Lassie-related was always appealing. But "Lassie Come Home" is heartbreaking no matter who you are with its themes of loyalty, struggle and perseverance. Featuring a young Roddy McDowell and Elizabeth Taylor, it tells the story of a destitute family that's forced to sell its beloved dog. But Lassie not only breaks free from her new owners, she treks hundreds of miles through various dangers and rough conditions to return home. Yes, it is manipulative, especially in that moment when young Joe Carraclough sees her again for the first time, but it works. A faithful 2006 remake had me yelling, "Run, girl, run!" with tears streaming down my face. (Thankfully, I was alone in the theater.)
— "My Dog Skip" (2000): Again, anything having to do with a dog is going to turn me into a pile of mush. "My Dog Skip" also has that irresistible boy-and-his dog dynamic, which exponentially ups the cute factor. A young Frankie Muniz stars as a shy kid named Willie whose only real friend, a scruffy and lovable Jack Russell terrier, helps him open up to the world. Sure, Skip and Willie's adventures may seem too contrived in their wackiness, and their bond is unrelentingly and shamelessly heart-tugging. Still, but you'd have to be a major cynic not to get choked up, especially by the final scene.
— "Up" (2009): The whole film is lovely, of course — the winner of two Academy Awards, including best animated feature. It's easily one of Pixar's best, and that's saying something. But it's that one poignant montage that makes the tears come in torrents. It reveals the decades-long relationship between curmudgeonly, 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen and the love of his life, his late wife, Ellie, who brought out the fun he never knew he had inside of him. It lasts just a few minutes without a single word spoken — just Michael Giacchino's wistful, Oscar-winning score to accompany the images — but it's so beautifully detailed and insightful, it tells a full and satisfying story. Don't even bother trying to hold back.
Think of any other examples? Share them with AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire through Twitter: https://twitter.com/christylemire.