Between fireworks and cooking out, why not fill the time on Independence Day with a movie set on the holiday?
For this list, we're looking at movies that are set on or around the Fourth of July. There might be an exception or two made on the "movie" part of the list, but the entries still take place around the 4th.
What's your favorite movie to watch on Independence Day?
Even if you're not a fan of musicals, I cannot suggest watching this movie enough. The big-screen adaptation of the Tony Award winning play takes a few liberties with historical accuracy, but is still more accurate than other films depicting the birth of our country. Heck, dialogue between John Adams and his wife was taken directly from letters sent between the two in 1775 and 1776, and the dispatches from George Washington read in congress were the actual writings of Washington.
But ultimately, and most importantly, the movie is a lot of fun. It expertly conveys the drama behind getting the Declaration of Independence passed while including catchy music and amazing performances from the leads all the way down to bit parts. There's no way you'll watch this movie and not walk away with Ben Franklin as your favorite character.
This is a go-to for many people to watch on July 4th, and with good reason. Apart from being set around Independence Day, the movie is a great adrenaline rush of an action/sci-fi movie and a precursor to the over-the-top action films of today. Sure, the performances aren't the greatest with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum basically playing themselves, but that doesn't matter compared to the amount of action constantly pumped out from start to finish.
Unfortunately, a mediocre sequel has tainted its image, but the original can still stand on its own as a safe bet to put on TV to entertain friends and family.
Apart from taking place on the 4th of July weekend, 'Jaws' is a movie that should be watched for the sheer historical context. It set the standard for the Hollywood blockbuster, being the highest grossing film of all time for two years until the release of 'Star Wars' in 1977. It also went on to set the Hollywood standard of pumping out pointless sequels with three follow-up films of consistently dropping quality, none of which even came close to reaching the financial or critical success of the original.
'I Know What You Did Last Summer'
'I Know What You Did Last Summer' has become a punchline for horror movies, being considered one of many rip-offs in the wake of the success of 'Scream'. However, the movie does stand on its own as a good thriller and a high point of the teen horror genre of the late 1990s.
With the events of the film being kick-started by a 4th of July party, it fits perfectly into the Independence Day playlist.
Yes, this movie has the historical accuracy of 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter', but was successful in instilling a feeling of patriotism in the audience and continuing to launch the career of Heath Ledger.
The movie looks amazing and authentic, but just remember that its primarily a work of fiction taking place in a key point of American history. There's no record of British troops setting fire to a church with innocent people in it, and the man that Mel Gibson's character is based on was known to be a drunk and regularly committed atrocities worse than the British are shown to be doing in the film.
'Born on the Fourth of July'
The autobiographical film of anti-war activist Ron Kovic isn't one that many would jump to watching on Independence Day, but shouldn't be overlooked. Many found the film to be uncomfortable to watch with its accurate portrayal of Kovic going from proud Marine to a paralyzed vet speaking out against the Vietnam war. But the film is a high point in the filmography of Tom Cruise and Oliver Stone, and if you can stomach the violence of the war and the horrors faced by soldiers returning home, the film serves as a reminder of what we've been through as a nation and shouldn't have to go through again.
'Return of the Living Dead'
Yes, 'Return of the Living Dead' counts as a 4th of July movie. The film starts on the night of July 3rd with people getting ready for the Independence Day weekend when a busted container causes gas to escape that reanimates the dead in a medical supply warehouse.
With the surge of zombie movies over the past two decades, its easy to overlook this 80s classic. Its definitely dated from the music, to the costumes, to the effects, but this movie is truly one of the most important in the zombie sub-genre. Before 'Return of the Living Dead', zombies were known to be flesh eaters. But this movie originated the trait that is possibly the most recognizable in zombie lore: zombies eating brains.
The 4th of July is a benchmark of any kid's summer break, marking the halfway point until they have to return to school. And with 'The Sandlot' perfectly depicting summer break for a group of baseball-loving friends, the 4th has to be part of the story.
While its always a good time to watch 'The Sandlot', this summer would be an opportune time to watch with the cast returning for a series on the upcoming Disney+ streaming service.
This is one of the occasions where we overlook the "movie" part of the list and include a mini-series.
The 'John Adams' mini-series on HBO gave possibly the most accurate portrayal of the birth of America we've seen, as part of the overall life of our second President.
It doesn't have the humor or charm of '1776', or the action of 'The Patriot', but this is acting at its best. This is all about the story and the performances, and in respect this is an amazing thing to watch for the 4th.
'Stranger Things' Season 3
'Stranger Things' is one of the best shows out there, plain and simple. With season 2 taking place on Halloween, it turned into something that people watch every October along with their favorite horror movies. And if they're able to maintain the quality of their previous two seasons, there's little doubt that this season of 'Stranger Things' will be a regular watch for many people every Independence Day.