There’s a line in Cameron Crowe’s 2011 film We Bought a Zoo that Matt Damon delivers to his son that goes like this: “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
It’s one of the cheesiest lines I’ve ever heard, but in that moment, having had two hours of movie magic soften me up, it just worked. But the only way it works is if you just let it go. All of it. Let go of all your cynicism. Let go over every urge you have to be critical. Just say f**k it, I am uncool, and buy into it. It’s why people love The Notebook or Love Actually or Ghost or half the lines in the 100 Cheesiest Quotes of All Time.
That’s why we movie critics are lousy at reviewing sentimental films, because there’s that need to be judgmental, to be critical, and to be right, and sometimes being right means you lose out on an opportunity to fucking bawl your eyes out for a lousy goddamn reason. You can watch Rachel McAdams’ About Time and steel yourself to the manipulation, or you can let it go and walk out of that theater and weepily call your spouse to tell her that you love her while 200 teenagers are streaming out of a Thor screening.
The first choice is probably the cooler one, but you can’t take cool points with you when you die (unless you have awesome flame decals on your coffin. VAROOOM). Nobody’s dying words were ever, “Man, I wish I’d spent more time being cynical.” Nobody ever says, “I just wish I had more opportunity to trash the earnest efforts of others. If I could’ve just left ONE more Internet comment belittling that filmmaker or artist or songwriter that was dumb enough to expose their vulnerabilities, I could’ve lived a more complete life!”
F*ck it, I say. If Zach Braff wants to make a film with the Shins playing the soundtrack and Josh Gad is wearing a space helmet and Kate Hudson daringly attempts to recall her Penny Lane character and kids run through the street, I’m willing to say fuck it, let myself be manipulated and see what comes of it.
What’s the worst that could happen? Some douchebag on the Internet might just call me a sucker for falling for Zach Braff’s sentimental bullshit.
I can live with that.