Happy America day, everyone! Hopefully you've got yourself a nice pile of plans for this fine day of meat-and-beer-and-explosion-oriented celebration. But just in case you're a rage-filled shut-in like myself, we here at Screened thought it might be nice to give everyone a list of some of our favorite America/July 4th related movies. No, these are not all "good" movies, precisely, but they do embody the American spirit and, if not real, honest-to-god patriotism, at least some hyper-aggressive blind form of it that'll probably make you want to fight a Russian or two. But don't do that. Russians are tough, and you will probably die.
As you may have noticed in yesterday's Community Showcase, we showed off some of our users' favorites in this category as well. So feel free to peruse those lists too in search of the perfect patriotic movie-going experience.
And with that, onto the list!
| 10. National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets |
OK, yeah, we're not exactly starting this list off with a quality bang, but what the National Treasure movies lack in "good," they more than make up for in sheer gleeful defilement of American history for the sake of Indiana Jonesing up the joint. Also, you get to hear Nicolas Cage deadpan lines like "I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence" and "I'm going to kidnap the President of the United States." Dude, yes!
| 9. Dave |
This might seem like a weird pick, but Dave is actually one of the most pleasantly patriotic movies I can remember seeing in years. As the pretender to the Presidency, Kevin Kline's employment office director-turned-imposter Pres takes a long, hard look at our political system and affects some serious (and whimsical) change. Kline is awesome, as is Frank Langella as his political rival. This one's kind of a forgotten gem, and it deserves a look on this here American birthday.
8. The Patriot
Disclaimer: The Patriot is kind of a sucky movie. It's one of the few Roland Emmerich movies not to feature a global apocalypse of some kind, but it still features his signature brand of ham-handed direction and stiff-as-steel acting. Also, you will never find a movie more single-minded in its championing of American Independence. The British opposition is portrayed as so snivelingly evil that they might as well all have twirly moustaches and be laying damsels in distress on railroad tracks. And Mel Gibson is in full-on Yankee-Doodle- Braveheart mode here, one-man-ganging it through the revolutionary war. I'm pretty sure there is a scene where he impales an evil general with a fucking American flag. So there, there you go. 'Nuff said.
7. Red Dawn
Wolverines! I'm sorry, but I don't know how you don't put this on the list. Russians invade America, and small town America fights back! This is the quintessential '80s communist-paranoia action flick, and there is no better time to watch it than this very day. Plus, you should probably get at least one more viewing in before the chintzy-sounding remake smacks us all square in the jaw.
As an aside, you could always follow this up with the god-awful Chuck Norris flick Invasion U.S.A. (in which he single-handedly takes down an army of terrorists attacking the US of A). Or! Even better! Rent the MST3K episode also called Invasion USA (not the same movie at all). That's a hilarious one.
| 6. Saving Private Ryan |
Here is your obligatory "greatest generation" World War II movie. Granted, as obligatory entries go, this is an incredible one. There is still no better WWII movie in my mind, or, really, any war for that matter. Brilliantly acted, directed, shot, and hell, everything else, Saving Private Ryan perfectly captures the war-weary drama of the campaign, but also the unbelievable courage of those who fought in it. I still get way teary-eyed at that end scene in the national cemetary, not gonna lie.
| 5. Jaws |
I swear, I'm not just putting this on the list for my insane love of Quint. You need look no further than the scene on July 4th down at the beach where people get savagely eaten, and bam. There's your thematic appropriateness. But really, Jaws is just kind of the perfect summer movie for me, and always will be. It's the original summer blockbuster, for crap's sake!
4. Rocky IV
I know, I know, we've been picking on the Russians a whole lot on this list, but let's face it, all of America's best "AMERICA RULES" films from the '80s revolve around godless Commies and their attempts to infringe on our way of life. In this case, boxing. I considered including Miracle (the movie about the Team USA victory over Russia in the 1980 Olympics), but Rocky IV is so much more viscerally satisfying. Not only does Rocky get to be America's champion over the stoic bad-ass Ivan Drago, but he gets to avenge the death of Apollo Creed. Wrap that man in an American flag, we're done here!
3. Born on the Fourth of July
Obvious pick is obvious, but it's kind of hard NOT to go with this one. Oliver Stone's biography of Ron Kovic is still a poignant and haunting portrayal of a man whose entire worldview undergoes a pretty radical change after coming home from the Vietnam War. Plus, Tom Cruise (who we do give a lot of crap to around here) is truly excellent as Kovic. Let this be one of the few downers of your movie watching day. You won't regret it.
| 2. Team America: World Police |
Trey Parker and Matt Stone's musical satire of America's penchant for policing the world at large is, by far, one of the funniest and most bizarre films of the last ten years. No other movie features both Kim Jong Il as a villain and aggressive puppet sex. FACT. If you're looking for a good way to celebrate the holiday with a savagely satirical bent, look no further than this little gem. America, FUCK YEAH, indeed.
1. Independence Day
If you didn't think this was going to be our number one choice, A. You didn't read this list close enough, and B. You're on the wrong movie site. Go back to Russia!
Independence Day is fucking amazing. It's one of the best/dumbest disaster flicks ever made, and despite the distinct lack of Russians as villians, the movie still manages to create a definitively RAH-RAH AMERICA RULES vibe against an overwhelming force of alien intruders. I mean, Jesus Christ, the goddamn President of the United States leads a squadron of jet fighters against an alien ship! If watching this movie doesn't make you want to go outside and blow some shit up in the name of American freedom, then I don't know what will.
Honorable Mentions: Rambo: First Blood Part II, Miracle, Blown Away, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Air Force One, Flags of Our Fathers, All the President's Men, 1776, HBO's John Adams miniseries, Band of Brothers, the entire series run of The West Wing
So, that's our list! Hope you found a few inspired choices for a bit of holiday weekend movie watching. Now, I think it's about time we depart to get ourselves as painfully loaded on AMERICAN beers as humanly possible while blowing off various bodily appendages with bombs made out of Piccolo Petes.
But before we do, let's let the soothing, patriotic sounds of Dennis Madalone play us off.