Looking for some movies to watch this Independence Day that will make you fiercely proud to be an American? Well look no further, because these films will have you bursting with so much patriotism that you’ll barely have room for any of that all-American barbequed meat.
10. The Patriot
This one could have clawed its way onto this list based on its name alone. But The Patriot’s patriotic merit goes a lot deeper than the title: Mel Gibson plays his usual character, the Formerly Peace-loving Family Man Driven to Revenge by Murder of Family Members, but in this case, the family-member murder occurs during the American Revolution. Of course, Mel is inspired to take up arms against his oppressors. Australian actors and historical inaccuracy aside, this movie will have you seized with old-fashioned patriotic fervor. Remember to calm yourself down before you talk to any British friends afterward.
9. Top Gun
There category of ‘patriotic military movies’ obviously contains a lot of completion: pretty much any movie involving both Americans and Nazis is a surefire bet for a pro-USA spin. But if you’re looking for something a bit more cheery than Saving Private Ryan for your Fourth of July celebration, you can’t go past Top Gun. While it has its downer moments, this military-themed movie is less about the horrors of war and more about lots of really awesome planes flying around doing cool stuff. The flying scenes are so good, even the Chinese couldn’t help but steal a bit of footage for one of their Air Force-related news broadcasts earlier this year.
8. Iron Man
Unfortunately, Captain America doesn’t come out in time for Independence Day 2011, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for an uber-patriotic superhero movie. You could watch the old version of Captain America that came out in 1990, in which our hero must rescue the President before an Italian Nazi can implant a mind-control device in his brain and use him as a puppet. Unfortunately, that movie kind of sucks, so instead you might want to go for Iron Man, in which all-American Tony Stark flies around killing terrorists and bad guys all over the world. Surely Tony Stark is the epitome of the American Dream – whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you to decide.
7. Rambo III
The Rambo franchise might have started off as a statement about veterans traumatized by the Vietnam War, but by Rambo III, it’s about a world in which a single American can show up in Afghanistan and immediately have the locals fighting to the death by his side. Rambo is also gifted with America-based superpowers: he can bring down helicopters with a bow and arrow, and easily outruns large fiery explosions. Sure it’s not realistic, but it’s an escape. And if fantasy Afghanistan ain’t your thing, you can always go for Sylvester Stallone’s other ode to America, Rocky IV, in which Rocky beats up a Communist while dressed in stars-and-stripes-patterned shorts.
6. Team America: World Police
Team America, about an elite group of Americans that fights terrorism around the world, is definitely not for everyone: it features, among other things, a puppet love scene that has scarred many viewers for life. But fans of its brand of humor will enjoy a movie that spares no aspect of American society, and yet also manages to make you kind of fond of it all, too. Sure, it’s a spoof on America’s arrogance and dumb action movies, but it also managed to give modern American patriotism an entirely new official anthem and a catchy new slogan: ‘America, F**k Yeah!’
5. Red Dawn
A plucky team of small-town teenagers gang up to fight against an unlikely invasion of small-town America by the Soviet Union and its allies, using only their wits, bravery and outdoorsman skills. Sure, it’s easy to make fun of Red Dawn, especially the scene where Harry Dean Stanton starts shouting “Avenge me, son! Avenge me!” for no particular reason. But the movie’s also kind of touching, and its patriotic power is undeniable. Red Dawn is currently being remade for the modern era, with America’s new attackers consisting of… North Korea. How can a small country that barely manages to feed its own population get all the way to America and launch an invasion, you ask? Well, a better question is this: how many ticket sales will be lost if angry North Koreans refuse to see the film? Exactly.
But this movie isn’t even set in America, you cry! Sure, but in this adaptation of Frank Miller’s comic, ancient Sparta is pretty much a thinly veiled US of A. Both the comic and the film use the fight of the 300 Spartans against the forces of the Persian Empire to showcase modern America values like bravery, liberty, friendship, equality, and impressively sculpted abs. Sure, the real Spartans might have had some beliefs and practices that we Americans really wouldn’t have liked, but it’s better if you forget all that and just sit back and enjoy the fancy fighting.
3. Air Force One
How could we leave out a movie that features a tough-talking, gun-toting president taking down a bunch of terrorists? Harrison Ford plays an American president whose plane is hijacked by evil Soviets. Being both the president and Harrison Ford, he knows that he has no choice but to hunt them all down himself. For reality to live up to this, President Obama would have had to fly into Pakistan himself and personally punch Osama bin Laden to death, perhaps while uttering some sort of badass line like “Jihad this.”
2. Letters from Iwo Jima
At first, this might seem like an odd movie to include: the Clint Eastwood-directed film about Japanese troops in World War II isn’t just in another language; it’s from the viewpoint of a country that was at war with America. Probably only Clint Eastwood, who had built up his patriotic credit over a lifetime of appearing in movies like Heartbreak Ridge, could have got away with making this one. And that’s the funny part, because if you watch the movie carefully, you’ll see that in many ways it’s really about America. The main characters are all exposed to American values, and by the end of the movie they’ve come to realize that these values are in fact superior to those of warlike Imperial Japan. And Mr. Eastwood manages to do all this without getting insulting or preachy. Team it up with its companion film, Flags of Our Fathers, for a double dose of nostalgic patriotism.
1. Independence Day
It’s highly unlikely that any movie will ever be able to beat the scene in which a Marine played by Will Smith punches out an invading alien life form with the words “Welcome to EARTH.” Sure, Independence Day is incredibly silly and full of plot holes, from Mac-compatible alien computer viruses to Jeff Goldblum driving from New York to Washington DC in under six hours during a full-scale traffic apocalypse. But look past all that, and you’ll find a story of Americans putting aside their differences in order to unite and lead the world in defeating a great evil. And this is something that almost every American still wants to believe that we can do.