Jaunty Post

I’m writing this from the observation bench at my kids’ swim lessons. We’ve been going once a week since September and they’re making good progress. This is important to me, partly because The Geek and I like to scuba dive and so we vacation a lot near water. But also because I’ve watched the previews to a movie that’s out now called The Impossible. Have you seen the preview for this? If not, I’ve included it below so you can take a look. Be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart.


The Impossible trailer


If you didn’t want to watch the preview and haven’t heard of the movie, here’s the run down: It’s the true story of a Spanish family who happened to be vacationing in Thailand during the tsunami in 2004.

Now, I’m pretty much a movie trailer junky. It’s my favorite procrastination technique. I almost never make it to the actual movies, so trailers are a way to get my movies fix in five minute chunks. If it’s up on iTunes and it’s not obviously a horror movie, I’ve probably watched the preview for it.


Cut to last fall when I’m at the computer, innocently procrastinating on iTunes. I load up the trailer for The Impossible. (***however many***) minutes later, I was a shuddering mess of nerves curled into a fetal position. That preview freaked. Me. Out.


We vacation in places just like that. Pretty much every vacation. Right after the preview ended I texted The Geek and told him we were giving up diving for skiing and we were never going to the beach again. He’s used to my particular brand of crazy, so he ignored me. Plus, he knows me too well. I don’t like the cold, I’m not coordinated and I’m not an adrenaline junkie. Skiing just ain’t my thing. I’m stuck with diving I’m afraid. I had my kids signed up for swim lessons within an hour of navigating my browser away from iTunes.


Today, as we were heading out to swim lessons, my sister called. “I went to go see The Impossible yesterday,” she said.


“How was it?” I asked.


“I think my kids need more swim lessons.” (Her kids are 15 and strong swimmers.) “Plus, they don’t know anyone’s phone numbers. I’m making them flash cards right now with your number and mom and dad’s number too. Just in case.”


I think it must just be that kind of movie. The kind that makes you imagine the worst things that could happen. For the record, my sister also said it was great movie. That she would recommend it to anyone. And that she’s never going to see it again. Yeah, I get that.


I know it’s not a movie I can’t watch. I just don’t think I could take it. (But I reserve the right to change my mind at some point in the distant future.) I think it’s so crucial to know what your tolerance is. To know where your threshold is. Me? I can’t do super sad. I can barely do a little sad. I started sobbing in The Sound of Music when I watched it with the kids the other day. I’m the person who can’t watch those SPCA commercials about kill-shelters. I once cried during a documentary about the digging of the Chunnel. Seriously. My sorrow threshold is extremely low.


So what’s your sorrow threshold? Can you watch a movie like The Impossible or are you a Hallmark commercial crier?

19 thoughts on “The Sorrow Threshold

  1. MJ says:

    “I once cried during a documentary about the digging of the Chunnel. Seriously. ”

    I can’t. Stop. Laughing!

    Not going to see The Impossible. No way. Won’t see War Horse or Blind Side or anything too likely to get the waterworks going. The middle school kids did a play for Veteran’s Day and I was in a puddle. Absolutely sobbing and trying to be quiet about it. My students thought that was hilarious. No, I don’t do sad.

    1. Emily McKay says:

      Mj, the Blindside actually wasn’t too bad, but I avoided The War Horse too. War plus heroic animals? No way!
      And in my defense, in that documentary, there was this very dicey bit at the end where you didn’t know if the two parts of the Chunnel were going to meet up. 🙂

  2. Sandi in OH says:

    I usually don’t do violence. After saying that, I will tell you that I own all three Lethal Weapon movies and all the James Bond movies. I won’t watch gladiator movies. I do love musicals and comedies. I love movies from the 40’s. I own all the Thin Man movies. I’m even worse than you are, I cry at Folger Christmas ads…the brother coming home from Africa. I don’t know why. I have no siblings. I also cry when I read books that are sad.

    1. Emily McKay says:

      I can take a fair amount of violence, but I can’t do kids in danger. Yikes! Maybe I could do that before I had kids, but not now!

  3. Shana Shana says:

    I think I could watch The Impossible because that scenario is pretty far removed from me. We have hurricanes here but also lots of warning. The SPCA commercials do get me. I can’t watch anything where animals are hurt or kids.

    1. Emily McKay says:

      Yeah, I can’t do kids or animals hurt either. Of course the worst is like Old Yeller. Yikes!

      1. Shana Shana says:

        And they show that movie, and Where the Red Fern Grows, in schools!

  4. Lorelei says:

    Oh, I watch all those movies and they make me cry, big waterworks, Gladiator, Blindside, Extremely Loud and incredibly close, even Tangled, Toy Story 3, Happy Feet, Sound of Music. Life is Beautiful, the italian movie with Roberto Benigni, the one who won an Oscar and stood on the seats and began walking over people to get his statue…boy!
    But when I watch movies with sorrowness, I HAVE to watch something lighter or a comedic romantic right after, if not I’m mellow the whole day. I enjoy watching them because it keeps me n touch with other realities, keeps me grounded knowing that there are things more important in life than just material things, ya know?

    1. Emily McKay says:

      Oh, my gosh, Lorelei! Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud? Toy Story 3? You are a rock!
      I once sat down and across the aisle from someone watching Toy Story 3 on a plane. I tried so hard not to watch and I still ended up bawling!

  5. Not happening. No way. If it was just adults, okay, but kids? No no no.

    I’ll be the one covering my eyes and whimpering for the rest of the day just at the thought of this movie.

    1. Emily McKay says:

      Kris, I’m like you. If it’s all adults, I’m much better. But I’m still a wimp.

  6. Shanah says:

    My sorrow threshold has been getting smaller and smaller. I don’t do sad if I can help it. I avoid heart wrenching books, too. I don’t even like to do happy crying much. I feel like I cried too much last year (for various reasons, and so I am hoping to have a really happy 2013.
    And I won’t go near “entertainment” about kids in real danger (fictional pretend danger is another thing, like dragons or something). I am currently on a campaign to avoid seriously violent things involving killing…I still like action/adventure, but if it involves realistic anger, angry violence, etc., I won’t go there.

    1. Emily McKay says:

      Shanah, my tolerance (for sad stuff and violence) is so much less than it used to be. It’s funny, with Quinten Tarrento’s new movie … which I don’t even want to see, even though I loved Pulp Fiction when it first came out.

  7. Karen H in NC says:

    The Impossible is on my Netflix queue and can’t wait for it to be released. I saw War Horse and Blind Side…both were excellent films. I don’t usually cry during movies or TV programs but there are a few things that break me down. I used to watch Animal Cops (I think that was the name), a program on Animal Planet following ASPCA officers doing their jobs tracking down cases of animal cruelty. After awhile, I couldn’t watch that anymore…just to horrific and heartbreaking to see what people would and could do to defenseless animals.

    1. Emily McKay says:

      Karen, isn’t it interesting how everyone has a different hot button? Though, I don’t like that animal show either. 🙂

  8. CateS says:

    I’m a weepy girl… and my sister just got back from visiting a friend and attending a wedding in Malaysia.. She’s posted pics of a group of them on a similar beach.. Yikes!!

    1. Emily McKay says:

      Cate, I know! And, still, we’re thinking of taking a vacation some place just like that. I’m just reminding myself that those things are pretty rare. Though, increasingly common with global climate change. Which makes me feel all panicky in and of itself.

  9. catslady says:

    I do cry at movies but I think that’s a good thing that I can get so emotionally involved and still have emphathy for others. My favorites are when they make me laugh and cry.

    1. Emily McKay says:

      You know, Catslady, you’re so right! This ability to invest wholly in a story and in other people’s problems is wonderful! It’s a gift! I’m going to try to remember that. 🙂

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