Get out the bunting, hit the streets for a parade, and light some fireworks! The Fourth of July is full of fun ways to celebrate the birth of our nation. One of our favorite ways to celebrate is with movies, so we put together a list of ten films that get us in the spirit of patriotism!
What It’s About: In Roland Emmerich’s epic alien film, strange phenomena surface around the globe. The skies ignite. Terror races through the world’s major cities. As these extraordinary events unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that a force of incredible magnitude has arrived; its mission: total annihilation over the Fourth of July weekend. The last hope to stop the destruction is an unlikely group of people united by fate and unimaginable circumstances.
Who’s In It: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia
Why It’s Patriotic: This movie really changed the game when it comes to summer blockbusters and launched Will Smith into the big budget spotlight. But while we are waiting for quippy one-liners from Smith, or stuttering ramblings from Jeff Goldbloom, it’s Randy Quaid’s inebriated crop-duster who steals the show in his final confrontation with one of the alien ships. “Hello, boys! I’m back!”
Born on the 4th of July
What It’s About: In the mid 1960s, suburban New York teenager Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) enlists in the Marines, fulfilling what he sees as his patriotic duty. During his second tour in Vietnam, he accidentally kills a fellow soldier during a retreat and later becomes permanently paralyzed in battle. Returning home to an uncaring Veterans Administration bureaucracy and to people on both sides of the political divide who don’t understand what he went through, Kovic becomes an impassioned critic of the war.
Who’s In It: Tom Cruise, Willem Dafoe, Kyra Sedgwick, Raymond J. Barry, Caroline Kava, Bryan Larkin, Jerry Levine, Josh Evans
Why It’s Patriotic: War is hell, and Tom Cruise delivers a knockout performance is this film that calls to light one of the most tragic wars of modern history. So let it serve as a reminder that there are men and women out there who fight for our rights every day, and who often suffer at great cost of their own. Give them a big “Thank you” anytime you can.
What It’s About: The nation’s fathers harmonize their way through the founding of America in this musical adapted from a popular Broadway show. Colonial representatives gather in Philadelphia with the aim of establishing a set of governmental rules for the burgeoning United States. Benjamin Franklin (Howard da Silva) and John Adams (William Daniels) charge Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard) with the work of writing a statement announcing the new country’s emancipation from British rule.
Who’s In It: William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard, Donald Madden, Blythe Danner, John Cullum, Ron Holgate, David Ford
Why It’s Patriotic: The signing of the Declaration of Independence signified a momentous shift in our country, and while there have been MANY film and television adaptations of this monumental event, few have ever captured it with such pizazz as this hilarious and heart-warming musical.
The Music Man
What It’s About: When Harold Hill (Robert Preston), a traveling con man, arrives in River City, he convinces the locals to start a band by purchasing the uniforms and instruments from him. His intention is to flee as soon as he receives the money. Librarian Marian Paroo (Shirley Jones) suspects Harold is a fraud, but holds her tongue since her moody brother, Winthrop (Ronny Howard), is excited about the band. As Harold begins to develop feelings for Marian, he faces a difficult decision about skipping town.
Who’s In It: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Pert Kelton, Ron Howard, Hermione Gingold, Paul Ford, Timmy Everett
Why It’s Patriotic: Seventy-Six Trombones has become a marching band standard, and what Independence Day Parade would be complete without a marching band?!
What It’s About: When Scottie Smalls (Thomas Guiry) moves to a new neighborhood, he manages to make friends with a group of kids who play baseball at the sandlot. Together they go on a series of funny and touching adventures. The boys run into trouble when Smalls borrows a ball from his stepdad that gets hit over a fence.
Who’s In It: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna, Chauncey Leopardi, Marty York, Brandon Quintin Adams, Grant Gelt, Shane Obedzinski
Why It’s Patriotic: A modern classic. This tells the perfect summer coming-of-age story about small-town America all centered around the Great American Past-time. Trust us, just watch it, if you haven’t already. You’ll remember it “For-e-vuuuuur”!
I Know What You Did Last Summer
What It’s About: A year after running over a fisherman and dumping his body in the water, four friends reconvene when Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) receives a frightening letter telling her that their crime was seen. While pursuing who he thinks is responsible for the letter, Barry (Ryan Phillippe) is run over by a man with a meat hook. The bloodletting only increases from there, as the killer with the hook continues to stalk Julie, Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.).
Who’s In It: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Muse Watson, Anne Heche, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Johnny Galecki
Why It’s Patriotic: Teenagers getting skewered on July 4th? Well, sure! Why not? I mean, it is our list after all, and we love how Sarah Michelle Gellar sells Beauty Queen realness at the Croaker Beauty Pageant.
What It’s About: When a young woman is killed by a shark while skinny-dipping near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, but mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) overrules him, fearing that the loss of tourist revenue will cripple the town. Ichthyologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled ship captain Quint (Robert Shaw) offer to help Brody capture the killer beast, and the trio engage in an epic battle of man vs. nature.
Who’s In It: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie
Why It’s Patriotic: While not “patriotic” exactly, Jaws does play heavily on the July 4th weekend, and we really can’t get enough of lines like “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” So yeah… It’s a Great White, in the blue sea, and sees plenty of red. There. I made it patriotic.
Yankee Doodle Dandy
What It’s About: Brought to the White House to receive a Congressional Gold Medal from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Broadway legend George M. Cohan (James Cagney) reflects on his life. Flashbacks trace Cohan’s rise, from a childhood performing in his family’s vaudeville act to his early days as a struggling Tin Pan Alley songwriter to his overwhelming success as an actor, writer, director and producer known for patriotic songs like “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Over There.”
Who’s In It: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Richard Whorf, George Tobias, Irene Manning, Rosemary DeCamp, Jeanne Cagney
Why It’s Patriotic: Most of us at least know a few of the songs made famous by George Cohan, so Yankee Doodle Dandy more than deserves its place on this list for featuring music that speaks to the heart of the patriotic American.
Captain America: The First Avenger
What It’s About: It is 1941 and the world is in the throes of war. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to do his part and join America’s armed forces, but the military rejects him because of his small stature. Finally, Steve gets his chance when he is accepted into an experimental program that turns him into a supersoldier called Captain America. Joining forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Captain America leads the fight against the Nazi-backed HYDRA organization.
Who’s In It: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Richard Armitage, Stanley Tucci
Why It’s Patriotic: Well, for one thing, just look at his costume. It SCREAMS patriotism. That and he spends months in the army, traveling around the country, and fake punch Nazis on stage to rally support for the war effort. Then, he punches REAL Nazis in the face!
What It’s About: Three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.
Who’s In It: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Mahershala Ali, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Kimberly Quinn
Why It’s Patriotic: What story better shows the triumphant heart of America than the oft-overlooked brains behind one of the greatest moments in human history? They suffered through much but their indominable spirit outshined even the darkest of naysayers. Hats off to you, ladies. You are what make America great.