While a good majority of people will be celebrating this Independence Day with some hot dogs on a grill and a few large explosions in the sky, maybe you should prepare with a good movie or two. You don't want to squander the holiday with the wrong movie so here is a run down of some of the better films to pop in. They can be played in the background to fireworks and hamburgers or they can be turned up way loud to cover up your annoying neighbors who don't stop the party until early in the morning.
First up is an obvious one, so obvious it is named after the very holiday we're celebrating. Independence Day has gone from nearly forgotten about blockbuster from the late 90's to a somewhat cult classic you can find on TV all weekend long following July 4th. Starring movie behemoth Will Smith and the always entertaining Jeff Goldblum, we follow the story of an alien invasion of Earth just as our nation prepares to celebrate its freedom. Almost completely quotable from beginning to end by the true fan this film is perfect to have on without having to necessarily watch it intently. If you don't own, or can't watch, this film the director, Roland Emmerich has a new release out called White House Down. I haven't seen it yet but the only thing more patriotic than Will Smith defending the Earth from aliens is Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx defending the White House from terrorists.
Not every film has to be about our nation's birthday to make it on the list. While Live Free or Die Hard is not only a Die Hard film but also set on Fourth of July, it isn't a really good movie. Luckily there are 4 other Die Hard films to choose from and the one I suggest watching this holiday weekend is Die Hard: With A Vengeance. Unlike the first two we aren't set at Christmas time so there isn't any pesky snow and unlike the first two the third in the Die Hard series takes a much lighter tone for a good chunk of the film. John McClane must team up with Zeus, played by Samuel L. Jackson, in order to solve a series of riddles stretched across New York City. Add in a few more one liners than the usual Die Hard and a story you don't really have to pay attention to and it's perfect if you're constantly going outside to check on the grill.
Next up we continue the patriotic feelings with Rocky IV. Any Rocky film can leave you filling unstoppable in the face of adversity like every American should but the fourth film really pressed that patriot button. Rocky has to face a new threat in Captain Ivan Drago. Nearly engineered to be the best boxer the USSR can produce it is seemingly up to the aging Rocky Balboa to take on Drago who has been unstoppable in the ring. This film is borderline propaganda in some spots it's still plenty entertaining and straddles the line between ridiculous and fun. Somehow as dumb as the story line can be you still feel for the characters and cheer for Rocky to win. This film may be more patriotic than fireworks.
Fourth of July also indicates summer is in full swing. It's the first chance many get to enjoy the warm nights and have a few days of vacation to visit the beach and finally relax. Unfortunately the water isn't the safest place after one of the first summer blockbusters ever scared us for decades to come. Jaws tells the tale of a small northeastern town used to a flock of tourists coming to enjoy sand, surf, and warm temperatures. That is until a huge great white shark decides this beach is exactly where it wants to feast. Turning quickly from a summer movie into a monster movie Jaws balances a Moby Dick type struggle between man and nature with a straight up horror film. This is a movie to sit down and enjoy so maybe wait a day until explosions aren't erupting on every street corner.
These four films should give you a taste of the kind of fun and freedom we can have this weekend. Use this time to enjoy yourself even if that fun is away from a television screen. But in case you do get stuck inside, or actively avoid things filled with gun powder, then you have plenty of options to enjoy this long holiday weekend.