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Five moments when our favorite childhood movies got real

Updated on June 11, 2015

You ever watch a movie when you were a kid and all of a sudden find yourself drowning in emotions you weren't trying to experience that day? Like when Mufasa died in The Lion King, or Macaulay Culkin's funeral in My Girl?

It's not a bad thing when this happens, as some films manage to teach younger viewers valuable life lessons without losing their Disney-like qualities, but man, it doesn't make the feels any less strong.

Here are five notable examples of when family-friendly movies got way realer than anyone could've expected. (WARNING: Some spoilers and tear-jerking moments lie ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

1. Hogarth teaches the Giant about life and death

I've said this before, and I'll keep on saying it until I'm fertilizer: The Iron Giant is the greatest animated film that has ever been made. The animation is beautiful, it's well-written, and it manages to serve as a powerful allegory on various topics, such as loss, paranoia, and anti-violence.

Most of the film is rather light-hearted and carefree - I mean, it is about a boy who befriends a massive metal space robot, which is a pretty awesome circumstance. But when protagonist Hogarth and the Giant witness the death of a deer, the tone takes a serious, and well-executed, turn.

2. Anty fights a scorpion and loses

When I was a kid, I remember spending most of my time outside mercilessly terrorizing the hordes of ants I would see on the sidewalk. I'm not a fan of bugs and I am a fan of food, so a bug that spends its time ruining people's food is obviously going to be high on my hit list.

That all changed after I watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and saw what a noble friend and protector Anty the ant was to the accidentally miniaturized children who were lost in their own backyard. His death remains a tender topic of discussion for me, and has convinced me to this day that ants aren't all that bad (If they aren't crawling around on my food, that is).

Side note: Why did the Szalinski's have a scorpion in their backyard? Seriously, though.

3. Kevin reunites with his family

Let's be real: Kevin McAllister's family kind of sucks.

The first 20 or so minutes of Home Alone is basically a montage of an eight-year-old being treated like the Anti-Christ by his siblings and relatives just for being a kid. Even worse, they left him behind in Chicago to fight off burglars while they flew to Paris.

But despite all of the drama and questionable parenting decisions, Kevin and his family still love and miss each other during the entire ordeal, and everything seems to be on the right track when his mom greets him on Christmas day.

Their reunion is a sentimentally sweet moment for many reasons, but most prominently because of the score, composed by the legendary John Williams.

4. "I'll be right here."

I was lucky enough to see E.T. on the silver screen when it was remastered and re-released in theaters for its 20th anniversary in 2002. Watching E.T. and Elliott's relationship unfold is a magical and heartbreaking experience, and everything perfectly comes to a head during their final moments together in the forest.

E.T.'s "death" earlier in the film is hard enough to get through, but even at my age now, seeing E.T. say goodbye never fails to bring (the manliest) tears to my eyes. Also, John Williams strikes again with another fantastic, if not his best, score.

5. Buzz finds out he can't fly

One of the things that makes Toy Story great is how self aware the toys are of their own existence and purpose as playthings. However, this whole concept is lost upon Andy's fresh-out-the-box Buzz Lightyear action figure, who is adamant that he's the real deal.

When reality finally kicks in and literally sends Buzz falling back to Earth, watching his existential crisis is a melancholy and surprisingly deep series of events. Thanks, Randy Newman.

Honorable mention: Weebo's death

Flubber is a movie that should have no dramatic heft at all, especially considering the fact that its climax features the titular poly-morph painfully blasting out of a dude's butt. However, leave it to the greatly missed Robin Williams to invoke tears after his trusty robot companion meets an untimely end.


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      Evelyn Williams 2 years ago

      I truly enjoy reading the reviews of Jaylyn Cook. His "gift of gab" when he writes, is great. Jaylyn has most of the talents to become a natural in Journalism! Looking forward to your next write-up Jay!