The Best Movies to Watch on the Fourth of July
Fireworks, a lot of baseball, an ICONIC shark, some murders, and a few atypical options make up this July 4th movie recommendation list. Enjoy some ice cream and cuddle your firework-hating dog on the couch while you watch one of the below.
“You’re killing me, Smalls!” The ever-charming 1993 movie, The Sandlot, is always a good one to watch on July 4th. There’s baseball, a large dog, and James Earl Jones. What more does a great story need? There’s also young male friendship at the center of this heart-warming story about a group of kids in the summer of 1962. The baseball game and slow pan of the boys’ faces under the lights from the July 4th fireworks could make anybody’s cold, dead soul feel a little.
Shocking – Independence Day is on this list. Another movie from the 90s that still holds up on re-watch as a fun time. Aliens, Bill Pullman as the American president (what multi-verse timeline do we have to stumble into to make this happen?), and a lot of 90s CGI. (was it even called CGI then?) are an excellent backdrop to a film that catapulted Will Smith into the action hero role for the next decade. It’s a little long, clocking in at two hours and twenty-five minutes so make sure to settle in for the long haul here.
A League of Their Own
Technically, there is no specific July 4th scene in A League of Their Own. It’s here because it’s about America’s pastime, baseball, it’s genuinely phenomenal, and it feels like it has a July 4th vibe. It’s easy to rhapsodize about this movie. Everybody gives it their all, characters and actors both. It’s also a reminder that Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna are great actors. The late great Penny Marshall directed the movie and injected it with warmth, kindness, and a little stubbornness. Wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket, blast that cold AC to fight the humid heat, and eat some popcorn.
This little-known picture directed by the unknown Steven Spielberg still packs a wallop. The John Williams score alone is the very definition of iconic. The pacing is perfect and the entire back half of the boat changed the film forever. It also has an eerily prescient reminder for 2021; politicians don’t always prioritize peoples’ safety over money. In the case of Jaws, it means the beaches are open on Fourth of July weekend despite a killer shark lurking in the shallows.
Interestingly, Peter Benchley, who wrote the screenplay and the Jaws book that the movie is based on, dedicated the rest of his life to dismantling the stigma the film created around sharks. So, enjoy the jump scares, but when you walk away from this fantastic movie, just remember that it’s very unlikely a shark will attack you and they’re incredibly important for a healthy ecosystem, so the ocean needs a lot of them.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
It’s not spooky season so what is this slasher flick doing here? Young, beautiful people do a horrible thing and then try to cover it up, only to get their comeuppance from a hard-working fisherman. Now, that’s the American Dream. There’s also a Fourth of July parade that covers up the screams of a dying Sarah Michelle Gellar to really set that patriotic mood. The movie doesn’t even look like it takes place 25 years ago considering 90s fashion is trendy again. Grab your Tamagotchi and watch Jennifer Love Hewitt run around in a babydoll tee for a little less than two hours.
Coming to America
The immigrant experience is a truly American experience. If anybody needed reminding that Eddie Murphy is an exceptional comedian, Coming to America will remind them. Culture shock and all that comes with it is confusing, frustrating, and sometimes hilarious. Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Semmi (Arsenio Hall) ensure that viewers feel all that and more as they figure out how to build a new life in Long Island City. It can be a sobering watch if you remember LIC in the 80s compared to the present day as it’s one of the many NYC neighborhoods that’s seen exponential gentrification so, ironically, and unfortunately, very few immigrants can afford to live there now.
Edge of America
Maybe you’re someone who isn’t keen on celebrating the U.S.A.’s Independence Day. There are a multitude of reasons not to celebrate this day. You could watch Edge of America, directed by the prolific Chris Eyre, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, about a Black teacher who coaches the girls’ basketball team at Three National Reservation. There are brilliant jokes undermining the multitude of stereotypes surrounding BIPOC, and it features a sport other than baseball: basketball! Laugh, un-learn some systemic racist nonsense, and relish working character actor, James McDaniel, get the opportunity to sink his teeth into some good dialogue. It even features a young Irene Bedard, who has a lot coming up if her IMDb profile is accurate, and who might finally get the chance to shine in the next few years.