When it comes to the Fourth of July, there are two types of movies you can watch: the patriotic and the ridiculously patriotic. Patriotic movies show the realities of being American, and make you feel good about what the country can achieve. These are movies like Saving Private Ryan, Miracle, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The ridiculously patriotic movie is made as something to watch before you start lighting fireworks. They’re the heavy metal pregame mixtape that NFL football players use to get jacked up. The ridiculously patriotic movie is there for you to feel great about America, but also to feel like blowing something up. In short, they’re patriotic. And ridiculous.
No discussion on the topic of over-the-top patriotism can start without mentioning the movie that made Tom Cruise into the world’s biggest star. He plays Maverick, a hotshot pilot whose ego writes checks his a** can’t cash. Soon he’s invited to Top Gun, the most prestigious flight academy in America. After that, it devolves into a goulash of fist-pumps at planes while riding on a motorcycle, subtext-laden volleyball matches, and electric-guitar-aided dogfights.
WOLVERINES!!!!! This ridiculously patriotic movie is from writer/director and noted jingoistic crank John Milius. His other work includes Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian, and Homefront, the video game where North Korea takes over the US. In Red Dawn, a team of dirty Commies invades America’s heartland, and it’s up to a ragtag group of high school kids to defend their hometown. These kids include Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing reunion!), and Charlie Sheen. There’s a whole lot of gunfire and blatant stereotypes; which makes it a lock as a Fourth of July classic.
Attention: Will Smith does not say “Welcome to Earf” in this movie. He pronounces “Earth” correctly. Now that that’s been said, Independence Day is the greatest Fourth of July spectacle of them all. If you truly want to celebrate the holiday with the movie the correct way, you should watch it over three days, coordinating your days to the July 2nd, 3rd, and 4th parts. You come to watch Independence Day in order to see the White House get blown up. You stay for Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith’s easy chemistry and to see Data from TNG get mind controlled by tentacle telepathy.
Technically, Pearl Harbor shouldn’t have a place on this list, as it is based on an actual historical event. However, it falls victim to the “Rule of Bay.” That is, if Michael Bay directed it, it’s patently ridiculous. Of all of Bay’s ridiculously patriotic movies (Armageddon, Bad Boys II, any Transformers movie), Pearl Harbor turns up the patriotic cheese and violence to their absolute highest levels. He can’t even have the movie end on the dour note of the Pearl Harbor attack. He instead adds on another 45 minutes where Alec Baldwin leads an attack on Tokyo. “Why?” you may ask. Because he’s Michael Bay.
There are two figures in American film today that have the greatest reputation for ridiculous movies. They are both involved in National Treasure. The first is producer Jerry Bruckheimer. You may remember him from listmates Pearl Harbor and Top Gun. The other, of course, is the immortal Nicholas Cage. In this, Cage needs to find a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. He then uses it as a bulletproof shield when generic baddies led by Sean Bean try to take the treasure. A movie so ridiculously patriotic that its main character is named “Benjamin Franklin,” National Treasure is a perfect addition to an Independence Day marathon.
What's your favorite ridiculously patriotic movie?