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RATING THE WEEPERS

How recent and upcoming films rate on the weep-o-meter:

"Hope Floats": A prom-queen type gets dumped by her husband and moves back home with her eccentric mom, where she finds the love of her life. 2 hankies

"The Horse Whisperer": An equestrian teen's beloved horse is badly injured in a riding accident, and she slumps into a funk. Her fix-everything mom tries to make it all right and falls for an aging cowpoke. 4 hankies

"Life Is Beautiful": An Italian Jew tries to buffer his young son from their concentration camp surroundings by pretending it's all a game. 2 1/2 hankies

"The Mighty": A severely disabled boy with a rapier wit teams up with a slow-witted neighbor, and they fancy themselves Knights of the Round Table. The disabled boy's condition deteriorates. 3 1/2 hankies

"One True Thing": A tough-cookie daughter comes home to take care of her cancer-stricken mother. The mother's condition deteriorates. 4 hankies

"Saving Private Ryan": A gut-wrenching dose of World War II violence, bravery and patriotism. 3 1/2 hankies

"Simon Birch": A disabled boy, rejected by his own parents, finds comfort with a neighbor's family. After a bizarre tragedy involving a baseball and the neighbor's mom, the disabled boy's condition deteriorates. 3 hankies

"Theory of Flight": A woman with a progressive neurological disease falls in love with her crumpled-but-creative caretaker. The woman's condition deteriorates. (Coming to theaters in December.) 2 hankies

"What Dreams May Come": First the kids die in a car accident, then the dad. His wife kills herself, and he wanders heaven and hell in search of her. 1 1/2 hankies

Ratings

One hanky: Slight dampness around the eye region.

Two hankies: Actual tear flow, with some nasal involvement.

Three hankies: Steady tears with runny nose. Tissues a must.

Four hankies: Full-tilt sobbing, accompanied by snorting and body shudders. Several tissues required.

-- Karen Hershenson

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