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Here's Why In-Flight Movies Make You Cry Like a Baby

Published On 11/29/2017
I was glad Walt Kowalski wasn’t alive to see me like this. A grown-ass US Marine crying like a hungry baby, just because some movie on an airplane ended with poor Walt bleeding out on a cold Detroit street.  
"Jesus, Joseph and Mary," he’d have said. "Get off my plane."
But somewhere over the Canary Islands, there I was, straight bawling. On my first transatlantic flight I’d cued up Gran Torino, which stars Clint Eastwood as Walt, a salty old Marine who between racial slurs enjoys drinking PBR and yelling at Hmong kids to get off his lawn. Not exactly your standard tear-jerker.
Two hours later, that old yeller had become my Old Yeller.
How had a tough-guy flick turned into an onion-cutting? Was it the thin air? The close quarters? The uncomfortable realization that I was, in fact, a little mama’s boy? I figured there had to be something about flying that makes movies hit us harder. And it turns out, this little phenomenon is true, and hits people for some reasons you might not expect.
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
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