MONDAY MATINEE: My Favorite Patriotic Films

For today’s blog post, I thought we’d take a look at some of the movies I might pick to watch today, July 4th, our country’s Independence Day. Some of them will make total sense to you; others will surprise you . . . but I will make a case for why they fit.


1996, PG-13, 145 minutes
Starring: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid, and a ton of others

My first pick is not all that surprising. After all, its named after the holiday and features our military (along with others of the world) battling evil aliens. And Will Smith . . . how much more American can you get?


2000, rated R, 165 minutes
Starring: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs, and Chris Cooper

Another obvious choice, this is one of my favorite movies to watch anytime.  In fact, if its on TV, I always stop to watch it.  That scene where Mel Gibson’s character gets revenge in the creek for the death of his young son with such detachment and precision until the very end when he goes completely off the deep end always moves me no matter how many times I’ve seen it.  Its a great film and is the classic July 4th movie.


1992, Rated R, 138 minutes
Starring: Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon

This was playing on cable on Friday and I always enjoy it.  I didn’t realize that Aaron Sorkin wrote the play it is based on but it makes sense given the great dialogue and engaging story.  It certainly does not glamorize the military, but in the end honor does mean something. And isn’t that what America is supposed to be about?


1997, Rated R, 115 minutes
Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames

Cage as an Army Ranger with anger management issues just trying to get home to his wife and daughter? Besides the ridiculous accent, this is his best role ever (“Guarding Tess” is his finest performance).  John Cusack always brings his A game and I love him in this movie.  Malkovich is the best bad guy in all of film and he is at his maniacal best here.  The good guys win in the end in what is culturally the most American place – Las Vegas. It doesn’t get better than this.


2008, Rated R, 116 minutes
Starring: Clint Eastwood

There’s something really special about an older veteran who hasn’t lost his courage.  Eastwood is at his very best in this movie.  If you haven’t seen it, you need to.  I wept and wept and wept throughout the film and laughed out loud often, too.  Its really an amazing piece of art and the way Eastwood’s character finds unexpected redemption throughout the story is inspiring.  A former military man going to war on his own turf: Independence Day material for certain.


1954, Rated G, 120 minutes
Starring: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen

The most  unusual movie on the list, I realize, but if you think about the finale of the film – a celebration of a General by his troops – well, you can’t get much more patriotic than that.  And Christmas in July?  That seems American to me.

Do you have a favorite July 4th movie not on this list?  Tell us about it in the comments section!

TOMORROW: Tuesday Truth – Tracy Morgan and the PC Police!


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