My family loves watching movies together. We huddle on the couch with our blankets and popcorn and can enjoy the heck out of the newest superhero movie or feature-length cartoon. As my kids get older, it has been fun to introduce them to my husband and my favorites from growing up. 

Before I go further–show of hands–has anyone else started a movie with their family and realized too late that there are either a) parts that were skipped because you saw the made-for-tv version and therefore it was censored or b) scenes you knew about but for whatever reason completely forgot about? No? Uh. Me neither. Asking for … no, I was asking for me. I’ve done this exact thing so many times we have a policy that I need to look up the Wikipedia page before we press play. Many of the movies we enjoyed would absolutely not fly today. To say they did not age well is an understatement. Anyway. 

Something I’ve noticed that is neither a critique nor applause is that many of the movies I watched as a kid and younger adult ha orphans as either the main protagonist or a sidekick. As a kid, I had no context for that, really. As an adult; however, well, I have needed to explain why I am sobbing to my kids enough times that my youngest just crawls in my lap, pats my cheek, strokes my head, and says “It’s just a movie Mommy.” in a voice that is both condescending and sympathetic. 

In no particular order (and realize that Disney is featured prominently because they really use the “parents tragically dying” trope to shortcut emotional development in characters.) 


I feel like if you’re at all familiar with this musical, you get why it’s here. But the new version? Argh. My heart you guys. Little Annie pining for her mom and dad sitting on a street corner kills me. The foster home just…Ugh. They updated it so well. I loved the version I watched as a kid. I practically had it memorized. I imagined I was Annie and some rich person would come along and make me their child. It was, at best, a flawed understanding of what happened in that movie. That doesn’t keep me from humming the “little girls” song when my youngest three are driving me bonkers. (If you are unfamiliar, here is a clip for your viewing pleasure. Carol Burnette was just hysterical. To be clear, she’s a burnt-out, abusive, conniving character, but the song is on point. “Some women are dripping with diamonds. Some women are dripping with pearls. Lucky me! Lucky me! Look at what I’m dripping with: Little girls.” To be totally fair, my girls will sing “It’s a Hard Knock Life For Us” when they are doing chores. I think that makes us even.) But, I ugly cried through half of this movie as an adult. 

The Best Christmas Pagent Ever 

If you haven’t seen this before, I recommend tissues. It’s hilarious and also very, very sad. It is also the reason I will never be able to read the Christmas story in the gospel of Luke without hearing, “The Angel of the Lord stood before them Shazam! Out of the black night with a horrible vengeance!” The number of times I’ve had to stifle giggles in church because of that line plopping into my head is ridiculously high. The Herdman family will make you laugh and cry. If you’ve ever fostered, it’ll probably hit you harder than you think it would. 

Lilo and Stitch 

Stitch is my spirit animal. Little Lilo just breaks my heart and Nani is *chefs kiss* the most amazing big sister ever. But it is a story about loss and, after adopting our kids, it is another movie that made me cry. 


Okay, this one got me as a little kid. I will not go near deer meat to this day y’all (and I live in Texas, and am friends with hunters). It’s a whole psychological damage thing, let me tell you. But poor little orphaned Bambi just made me cry so hard as an adult that I almost threw up. 

Meet the Robinsons

I love this one; but also, it’s another story about being lost and found. It’s beautiful in its own way but I couldn’t help but feel angry at the fictional adults wanting to adopt that kept overlooking a sleepy little boy, Goob, who just wanted a family and ended up becoming a bad guy because of his misfortune. Yes, it was needed for the narrative to work. I just didn’t appreciate it at the expense of a little boy that I would scoop up and love forever. You know, if he was real.


Look, I cannot describe how feral I went for this musical, okay? Disney+ is personally responsible for many lost hours of my life watching this on repeat. But man, Alexander’s back story made me cry big ugly tears. And while we are discussing musicals that I personally sacrificed untold hours to, let’s discuss: 

Newsies (Live) 

Dangit. It’s a funny, mostly happy musical, but I lose it for Crutchy, man. I just want to like, wrap him up and feed him soup or something–and Jack, ugh, this mama watches movies for escape and I spend half this one wishing those poor traumatized boys could live in my house (which is absurd on multiple levels).


Guys. Guys this could have been an allegory for foster care and emotional trauma, honestly. Poor little guys dropped out of the sky and because of the way they were each raised, one as a golden child and one as a screw-up, they each developed flaws that made them struggle as adults. It’s a whole thing. I could write a whole essay on this thing. Watch this movie if you’re prepared to feel angry at imaginary people.

How about you, have you noticed yourself getting teary-eyed where you used to laugh or am I just a huge sap now?