My guide of great summer movies to make your Fourth of July super special, and super patriotic. Because that’s how we Americans do.
This is a quintessential film in my personal film library and of my childhood. It’s nostalgic to the core, and makes you feel like you had inadequate summers, unless you’re in the moment of watching it – then you feel like you’re one of the boys. Even if you’re a girl. There are just too many wonderful moments – the drowning fake-out, the dog chase through the 4th of July block party, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!,” the Beast, and so on. It still holds up every time, and now makes me wonder whatever happened to Patrick Renna, who seemed to be in every movie in 1993.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Will Ferrell is a Great American Hero (of Comedy). This isn’t my personal favorite movie of Ferrell’s, but it does contain some truly American themes: NASCAR, disillusionment, ignorance, rednecks. Those elements may not be mutually exclusive, but I do think, when you really look at it closely, the movie has got a much deeper commentary of America’s darker aspects of society. It speaks truth. Just look at the video of Walker and Texas Ranger below for evidence (jump to 5:01 for the kicker). And for the faithful Americans out there, it’s got a whole lotta Baby Jesus.
Nothing says summer like the beach…and lots of bloodshed. Is it weird that Jaws makes me want to patrol the beaches and buy a boat? I guess that’s what a Spielberg film does to you…makes you believe you can do things that realistically you cannot – aka The American Dream! No, but really, Jaws is a masterpiece, a near-perfect orchestration of cinematography, suspense, and that freakin’ musical score. Thank you, John Williams – the great American maestro.
Another trip down memory lane a la the 1960s, this is one of my all-time favorite films. Like The Sandlot, it makes you wish you had a summer night like the one here. For anyone that appreciates oldies, this is a soundtrack to live for – a compilation of fun gems. And it’s Harrison Ford’s first movie role, and George Lucas’ second feature film. So really, this film embodies the American Dream in nascent form. It also personifies the budding car culture and competitiveness that is innate to our society.
To Kill a Mockingbird
On a more serious note, To Kill a Mockingbird is not only the ultimate tearjerker, but this American classic is made of integrity. Another story about summers of childhood, its core is Atticus Finch, as he tries to do good and serve justice in an unjust world. It’s a reminder of an ugly history, but also a reminder that people are capable of acts of kindness and truth.
Ah the disaster movie. There’s nothing America loves more than reveling in the impending doom of a catastrophic meteor shower or alien invasion and consequently enjoying the accompanied kicking of ass that is sure to follow. I genuinely love this movie. It’s one of those movies I always find myself stopping to watch if I come across it channel surfing. It’s ridiculous, yes. But it has heart, patriotism, and it’s funny. Like, really funny. It’s even scary – yes, the part with the alien dissection gone horribly wrong – but the scariest part? When that dog almost gets engulfed in flames in the tunnel. It’s just too much! The cast is also great. It’s Bill Pullman’s second finest performance (behind Spaceballs, of course). And that shot at the end when Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum appear from within the smoke after destroying the alien motherload, strutting and smoking cigars like two badass mofo’s in the desert, it just makes you wanna say, “America…fuck yeah!”
Happy Fourth! Rock, Flag and Eagle!